Johnny Murtagh backs teenage jockey Ben Coen as a true rising star

‘I keep telling him he’s much better than Johnny Murtagh was at 19’

Jockey Ben Coen exercising on the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby entry Earlswood  on the Curragh gallops this week. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jockey Ben Coen exercising on the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby entry Earlswood on the Curragh gallops this week. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Johnny Murtagh has full faith in Ben Coen as the teenager prepares for the biggest ride of his short career to date on Earlswood in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on Saturday.

Coen could hardly be heading to the Curragh at a better time, having ridden Murtagh’s Create Belief to victory in the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot last week.

In former multiple Classic-winning jockey Murtagh, the 19-year-old could have no better tutor but the Kildare trainer admits Coen is far ahead of where he was at the same stage of their respective careers.

“I keep telling him he’s much better than Johnny Murtagh was at 19,” he said.

“He’s much cooler, he’s much calmer and he’s much more on the ball.

“He’s a very nice fella, he rides very well. That was his first time on the big stage at Ascot last week, and he seemed to thrive on it. That’s what you have to do when you are under pressure.

“I think he’s the real deal. I keep forgetting he’s only 19 and he’s only going to get better, riding these good horses in these big races.”

Earlswood booked his ticket for the Derby on Saturday by winning the Gallinule Stakes, and Murtagh expects the step up to a mile and a half to bring out even more improvement on his return to the Curragh.

He added: “You have to stay to win at the Curragh, the last three furlongs are a long way home. Tt’s fair though, [and] the best horse usually wins.

“Ballydoyle normally run four or five every year and make sure it’s a test. I think our horse will get the trip well.

“The favourite [High Definition] looks like he’ll improve for York, but I think the Epsom Derby was a very good race this year. It was a properly run race, and there didn’t look to be many hard-luck stories.

“High Definition will have to be everything they say he is, and he’ll have to improve a good deal from York.

“The Irish Derby is open and it’s strong.”

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