Novellist produces a sparkling performance to land the King GeorgePICTURE: Getty Images
German raider Novellist captures King George
Report: Ascot, Saturday
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) (Group 1) 1m4f, 3yo+
NOVELLIST gave Germany back-to-back triumphs in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday when he emulated last year's winner Danedream in winning Britain's premier all-aged Flat race.
The victory also continued the golden run for jockey-of-the-moment Johnny Murtagh, who earned plenty of plaudits for his ride on the wayward Chicquita in the Irish Oaks and was leading rider at Royal Ascot.
The Classic generation filled the places with Irish Derby winner Trading Leather second and Hillstar third.
Trained by Andreas Wohler for Dr Christoph Berglar, Novellist, who won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time, was due to be ridden by Ryan Moore, but he was required to partner the supplemented Hillstar.
William Buick was a back-up option, but connections opted for Murtagh and he did not let them down, scoring his fourth King George success on the ultra-impressive winner.
He was settled just off the pace by his master jockey as Ektihaam and Universal took the eight-runner field along at a gallop which resulted in a new course record time.
Irish Derby winner Trading Leather - bidding to give trainer Jim Bolger a big-race double he completed with St Jovite in 1992 - was also handy with leading ante-post fancy and crack older horse Cirrus Des Aigles held up.
Ektihaam, who slipped when performing the same front-running role in the Hardwicke at the royal meeting, faded turning for home, leaving Universal in front. Novellist, however, was primed to strike.
The 5-1 winner was delivered with perfect timing by Murtagh and shot clear in the final two furlongs, charging to a sparkling five-length win.
"He's a high-class horse and has a good engine," beamed Murtagh, whose other King Georges came on Alamshar (2003), Dylan Thomas (2007) and Duke Of Marmalade (2008).
"I love the way that when I asked him he really stretched, he really got down and wanted it. I can't thank the owner enough, I was their third choice but I was probably worth waiting for."
Novellist is now vying for favouritism with Flintshire, Al Kazeem and Orfevre for the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with each available to back at 6-1.
And the Longchamp showpiece is very much the aim.
Wohler said: "I can't believe it. To win a race like that in track record time is beyond my dreams. He was really impressive.
Andreas Wohler: "the Arc is
the main target in the autumn"
"The statistics wouldn't have said there would be two German winners but when we have good horses they are good. It's the first big comparison between the best older horses and three-year-olds and he's beaten the best three-year-olds. He will have one race beforehand and the Arc is the main target in the autumn."
A drop in trip to 1m2f is on the cards for the Kevin Manning-ridden Trading Leather.
Bolger, who bred the Teofilo colt and trains him for his wife Jackie, said: "That was very satisfactory. Everything went well until the last furlong and he probably could have done with a bit more pace early in the race. Kevin was happy with him and so am I. He'll go to York for the Juddmonte and then the Irish Champion Stakes."
If Hillstar had won he would have provided trainer Sir Michael Stoute a record sixth success in the race. It was not to be, but connections got a return on the £75,000 they spent supplementing him.
"I'm delighted with him," Stoute said of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild's King Edward VII Stakes winner.
"I don't think we'll be dropping him in class now. It was a good solid effort and he is still going the right way."
Cirrus Des Aigles was disappointing on his seasonal reappearance behind Novellist at Saint-Cloud and trainer Corine Barande-Barbe felt he may still lack some match fitness.
Sent off the 6-4 favourite, the seven-year-old - aiming to become the oldest winner of the King George - could finish only fourth under Christophe Soumillon.
Barande-Barbe said: "Christophe said he still lacks a bit of condition. He needs competition because what you do in the mornings is just not the same.
"Christophe said he didn't want to ask more of him as he knew he couldn't win but he wasn't disappointed and he said that the horse would improve. Maybe if the storm had come it would have been easier for him. We might go to York next."