Royal Diamond to defend Irish St Leger crown

Quarantine restrictions meant it was impossible for Andrew Tinkler’s star to run at Curragh and in Caulfield Cup

Jockey Johnny Murtagh (left) rides Royal Diamond to victory in The Gain Irish St Leger Trial Stakes during the Galileo Futurity Stakes Day at the Curragh last month. Photograph: PA

Jockey Johnny Murtagh (left) rides Royal Diamond to victory in The Gain Irish St Leger Trial Stakes during the Galileo Futurity Stakes Day at the Curragh last month. Photograph: PA

Thu, Sep 12, 2013, 01:00

Royal Diamond will defend his Gain Irish St Leger crown at the Curragh on Sunday after Johnny Murtagh’s decision this morning to remain at home rather than travel to Australia for next month’s €1.7 million Caulfield Cup.

Quarantine restrictions meant it was impossible for the Andrew Tinkler owned star to run in both races and after a lot of deliberation, Murtagh, who both trains and rides Royal Diamond, has elected for the Curragh option.

“We are going to run in the Irish St Leger,” Murtagh said.

“Hopefully he can run very well in it again.”

Royal Diamond sprang a surprise in the final classic of the Irish season in 2012 when edging a memorably close finish and is now set to renew rivalry with the third horse that day, Brown Panther, who is owned by the former England football international, Michael Owen.

Australian racing officials had admitted it would be a coup for the Caulfield Cup to attract an Irish Leger winner to the historic mile and a half handicap on October 19th, a race won last year by the French star Dunaden.

The Melbourne Cup, run on the first Tuesday in November, could still be an Australian option for Royal Diamond later in the season.