Novellist to write another chapter in Johnny Murtagh’s extraordinary career
Aidan O’Brien bids for his second Arc win with Ruler Of The World and Leading Light
Johnny Murtagh celebrates after winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the German-trained Novellist.
Frankie Dettori’s out injured so tomorrow’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe can’t be about him: it might yet be about Oliver Peslier and a record fifth win in Europe’s greatest race: the bookies believe it will be about Christophe Soumillon providing a first win for Japan in the race the Far East powerhouse covets more than any other, but come 3.30pm tomorrow, it’s worth betting the jockey story from Arc 2013 will actually be Johnny Murtagh.
And the story will revolve around how the Irishman, who officially began training this year and whose legendary riding career looked to be on the skids, has reinvented himself back into being one of Europe’s principal ‘go-to’ jockeys.
Picking up the leading rider at Royal Ascot in June has re-booted Murtagh’s fortunes to such a spectacular extent that he subsequently secured a handful of Group One prizes, including on the Irish horses Gordon Lord Byron and Sole Power who he also rides tomorrow.
However, the most impressive of the lot was the German star Novellist in July’s King George and not surprisingly trainer Andreas Wohler has again sided with the Irishman who famously won the Arc 13 years ago on Sinndar.
Novellist’s versatility in terms of ground is a huge plus tomorrow with forecasts of ease in the going, something that won’t harm either of Aidan O’Brien’s Classic winners, Ruler Of The World and Leading Light.
He is also a relatively uncomplicated ride, something that can’t be said of Treve, Dettori’s original chance of career vindication before his ankle injury, who has to come from behind and has a wide draw.
In contrast the main Japanese hopes, Orfevre, is in a perfect “eight” box and attempt to redeem last year’s display where he somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the closing stages.
For a horse with a history of temperament issues, and a horse that reportedly bled in Japan earlier this year, he is a very short price, especially with the prospect of Japanese punters sending the Pari-Mutual spinning in their support.
In fact a case can be made for Orfevre’s compatriot, this year’s Japanese Derby winner, Kizuna, being a better option on the back of his Prix Niel defeat of Ruler Of The World three weeks ago.
The unknown factor in many respects is the French Derby winner Intello and his first attempt at a mile and a half. Jockey Oliver Peslier will stand alone as the most successful Arc rider of all time if the Andre Fabre trained runner emerges best but his stamina on ground far from quick has to be a concern.
Aidan O’Brien’s chances of a second Arc won’t be helped if Ruler Of The World sweats up again while Leading Light has to beat history and become the first to win the St Leger and the Arc in the same year.
Nijinsky and Alleged couldn’t do that double; is Leading Light in that class?
Ultimately in this most international of Arcs, Novellist looks the value option to give his Irish rider and German trainer the most prestigious win of all.