Novellist writes new chapter in Ascot record books
Andreas Wohler’s colt wins the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by five lengths
Johnny Murtagh riding Novellist win The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Novellist wrote his name into the history books when beating his rivals in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in a course record time today.
Trained in Germany (like last year’s heroine, Danedream), Andreas Wohler’s colt again advertised the strength of his country’s top equine talent with an imperious display in the prestigious Group One over a mile and a half.
Tracking the early pace set by Ektihaam and Universal, Johnny Murtagh - who had only come in for the ride after commitments ruled Ryan Moore and William Buick out - was, himself, being stalked by the hot-favourite Cirrus Des Aigles.
Universal took over from Ektihaam with Trading Leather in hot pursuit but Novellist breezed past the pair of them as though he had just entered the race.
Olivier Peslier attempted to give chase but Cirrus Des Aigles lacked his customary zip and it was left to Trading Leather and Hillstar to give vain chase with the pair finishing five lengths adrift.
Wohler said: “We’d just won a Listed race and a bumper race over here before this. This race is so high-rated. I used to come here as a kid and watch it as a kid in the school holidays and now I am here as a trainer. We knew he’d improved since his last race but as much as that is unbelievable.”
Murtagh added: “He’s a very high-class horse with a good engine. I loved the way when I asked him to stretch he wanted to get on with it. He stretched well - pulling him up was probably the hardest part.
“I can’t thank the owner and trainer enough. He feels like a very good horse. He’d be up there with my other King George winners.”
Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said of the fourth-placed Cirrus Des Aigles: “Christophe (Soumillon) said that he still had a bit of condition and he asked to breathe three times. He needs competition as he had a very big stop earlier in the year. He will improve again and we will now go on to York (for the Juddmonte International).”
Trading Leather’s trainer Jim Bolger said: “That was very satisfactory. He could have done with a bit more pace in the early part of the race. Everything went right until the last furlong. He’ll go to York for the Juddmonte and then the Irish Champion Stakes.”