Murtagh handed Novellist mount
Johnny Murtagh has been confirmed as the rider of Novellist in Saturday's King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
- Related Content
Boomakers - a number of whom have refunded ante-post bets on the six-times Group One winner, including Sky Bet - now have Novellist as their second favourite behind Cirrus Des Aigles and trainer Andreas Wohler has moved to snap up Murtagh who is riding at the top of his game.
Ryan Moore partnered the four-year-old to win the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud last time out, when Cirrus Des Aigles could finish only fifth on his first run of the year.
However, Moore will be required to ride Sir Michael Stoute's Hillstar, who was supplemented on Monday at a cost of £75,000.
William Buick is another who has ridden Novellist before but his boss, John Gosden, is likely to have runners at York on the same afternoon.
That meant Wohler turned his attentions to Murtagh who, despite starting a training career this summer, remains at the peak of his powers in the saddle, as he showed when winning the Irish Oaks aboard the wayward Chiquita last weekend.
"We've booked Johnny Murtagh as there were question marks over the other jockeys we've used before," said Wohler.
"The owner (Dr Christophe Berglar) didn't want to be hanging around until the last minute, which is understandable, so we've booked Johnny. Now we have certainty and Johnny is obviously in really good form."
Dane O'Neill has spoken of his delight at coming in for the ride on Roger Varian's Ektihaam, who slipped up on the bend in a dramatic Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
O'Neill is second jockey to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum behind Paul Hanagan, but the latter has chosen to go to York to ride the William Haggas-trained Mukhadram instead.
"He's a solid horse and rides in these races aren't easy to come by," O'Neill told At The Races.
"I can see where Paul is coming from, but it must have been a difficult decision for him. He must have been cursing when he realised the two horses were going to clash on the same day - luckily for me it is when doing a job like this works out very well.
"He did a light piece of work this morning, it was basically a leg stretch, and Roger was very happy with him. Since his mishap the last day, he's been fine at home."