Royal Diamond: lands the Long Distance Cup for Johnny MurtaghPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Royal Diamond reigns supreme for Murtagh
Report: Ascot, Saturday
Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (Group 3) 2m, 3yo+
JOHNNY MURTAGH'S incredible season in the saddle continued in fantastic style as Royal Diamond came with a late charge in the final stages to land the Long Distance Cup on the line from Harris Tweed.
Murtagh, who trains the seven-year-old gelding, yet again timed his run to perfection to get up by a nose at odds of 20-1.
The trainer/jockey, who was this season's top rider at Royal Ascot, has also landed seven Group 1 victories this season but he claims the fact he trains this Group 3 winner makes it the best day of his career.
"It's the best day of my life. I can't thank everyone enough for giving me the horses and trusting me," said an emotional Murtagh. "I don't know what to say - I'm stuck for words.
"He's been a brilliant horse and a brilliant horse from day one. I've been privileged to ride so many good horses, but would like to thank my staff - they're wonderful.
"I knew I'd won," he added of the photo-finish.
Andrew Tinkler, owner of the son King's Best, was another who was overjoyed with the performance and he was full of praise of Murtagh.
"Johnny's a workaholic - he tries to understand the horses," said Tinkler. "He rides them out every day and tries to get in their heads.
"It's the biggest day of my life in racing, to win on Champions Day with a horse I bought three or four years ago and didn't think would be anything.
"A lot of hard work's gone into this. We thought about the Melbourne Cup, but came here and won."
Royal Diamond travelled in midfield in the early stages of the race alongside the Queen's well-backed favourite Estimate.
However, coming round the bend Estimate came under pressure from Ryan Moore and although staying on, she failed build on her famous Gold Cup victory at the track in June.
She was seventh and trainer Sir Michael Stoute said: "Ryan said she just didn't pick up in the ground."
The Aidan O'Brien-trained Eye Of The Storm looked to be going as well as any coming into the final three furlongs but, despite fighting on gamely, had to settle for third place.
Royal Diamond's success caught the eye of the bookmakers with BetVictor intoducing him as a 12-1 shot for next year's Gold Cup, while Estimate was pushed out to 5-1 (from 4) to defend her crown.