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Novellist rewrites history books in King George at Ascot under

Updated: Saturday, 27 Jul 2013 17:57 | Comments

Novellist is disputing favouritism for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after his devastating display at Ascot
Novellist is disputing favouritism for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after his devastating display at Ascot

Novellist shattered the course record at Ascot as he gave Germany back-to-back victories in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

The four-year-old, trained by Andreas Wohler and ridden by man- of-the-moment Johnny Murtagh, spreadeagled the field in spectacular style to follow up Danedream's success 12 months ago.

Novellist (13-2) romped home by a scarcely-believable five lengths, breaking the mile and a half course record by over two seconds.

Irish Derby winner Trading Leather (9-2) was second, with another three-year-old colt, Hillstar, a further three-quarters of a length away in third.

Novellist has only been beaten twice in 10 starts and is yet another example of the high-quality, middle-distance horses developed through the German breeding system.

While the son of Monsun is clearly improving with age - his best previous victory had been in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud - no little credit should be attributed to his handler. 

Wohler and Murtagh, who replaced Ryan Moore and then William Buick aboard this prized spare, arrived with plenty of belief that he could repeat the defeat of decorated Group One star Cirrus Des Aigles achieved at Saint-Cloud.

The result, smashing Harbinger's 2010 mark in a time of 2:24.60, was utterly conclusive and Novellist will now attempt to emulate another of Danedream's landmark achievements by striking for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

"It was a great performance but it didn't feel like we'd broken the track record by two seconds. I was always cruising and in my comfort zone," said Murtagh, winning the King George for the fourth time.

"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."

Wohler has had few British runners, but has won races like the Arlington Million and the Dubai Duty Free.

"I can't describe it - it's dreamland," he said. "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.

"One of our strengths is we have horses who mature later and when stepped up in distance. I was confident as I knew he had improved since his last race but I didn't expect him to win by five lengths.

"It's the first time with the three-year-olds against the older horses and he has beaten the best three-year-olds easily.

"I was worried how confident Johnny was before the race because I thought he shouldn't be thinking it was so easy but he rode him as if he had ridden him 20 times before."

Looking ahead, Wohler said: "The main race would be the Arc after this, and he will have a prep race in advance, either in the Prix Foy or more likely the Grosser Preis von Baden."

Cirrus Des Aigles, the 6-4 favourite, gave vain chase but was only fourth and may still not be in peak condition on what was just his second start since chasing home Frankel in the Champion Stakes last autumn.

Now officially the top-rated horse in the world, he had been laid low through injury during the winter.

Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said: "Christophe (Soumillon) said that he still had a bit of condition and he asked to breathe three times, which means he needs the race.

"He needs competition as he had a very big stop earlier in the year. He will improve again and we might 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."

Michael Stoute was vindicated in supplementing his unexposed Royal Ascot winner Hillstar at the cost of £75,000, as he stayed on nicely for third and the prize-money leaves connections a tidy profit.

"I'm delighted with him," said Stoute. "I don't think we'll be dropping him in class now and he's going the right way."

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