Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
Novellist scribed his name into Ascot folklore with a comfortable display of dominance in breaking the track record by two seconds in Saturday's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
A meeting timely celebrating the birth of Prince George, Ascot had once more been blessed with a line up of international excellence for it's summer showpiece, and the race did not disappoint on its pre-race expectations.
From the gates the pace was notably quick with Ektihaam and Universal both vying for the lead and seemingly unwilling to back down in their front end battle. As Novellist tracked from fourth, Murtagh notably relaxed his mount further back off the pace coming out of Swinley Bottom before pushing forward as the front runners began to toil.
The response from Novellist was instantaneous. Whipping around the outside of the field, Novellist powered into the lead and immediately took a five length lead which could not be clawed back. Trading Leather ran credibly behind to hold off many a rival in second and tout himself as Ireland's number one three year old as the Classic division received a much needed boost of consistency.
Germany can once again dream of further victories in the premier events across the world, a dream which had been triggered by the victory of Danedream at Longchamp. In Novellist, they harbour a progressive four year old that has skyrocketed to the head of the European middle distance division with a display of sheer dominance. The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes will almost certainly not be the last that we hear of this progressive son of Monsun, who has improved from a somewhat lacklustre three year old season.
Johnny Murtagh continued his fantastic season of freelancing aboard the German trained colt. A jockey by trade, trainer by nature, Murtagh has experienced a purple patch in which he has thrived.
"He was a very impressive winner and he's up there with the good ones that I've ridden," said Murtagh. "It went exactly the way I'd imagined it would. It didn't feel like a track record but I was always cruising and in my comfort zone. When we got into the straight I hung off the back of Kevin Manning and then let him go. I was worried that something was going to come from behind but nothing did. It would have taken a fair one to get me because we quickened so well."
"To win like that is unbelievable but even more so to do it in a record time," said trainer, Andreas Wohler. "I was worried about how confident Johnny was before the race because I thought he shouldn't be thinking it was too easy but he rode the horse as if he'd ridden him 20 times before. His main target now is the Arc and he will have one race beforehand. The two options are the Prix Foy and Grosser Preis von Baden, it's more likely we'd go for the Grosser Preis."
Novellist received a quote of 5-1 for the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe after the race from Paddy Power.