Monsun's Novellist Destroys King George Rivals

Following in the steps of Danedream (Ger) (Lomitas {GB}) 12 months ago, Dr Christoph Berglar's Novellist (Ire) (Monsun {Ger}) took yesterday's G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond S. back to Germany in style under the deputizing Johnny Murtagh. Coming of age when winning the June 23 G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last time, the 13-2 shot took another leap up the ladder by slamming Trading Leather (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) by five lengths and smashing the track record in the process. "He's a very high-class horse with a good engine and is up there with all the King George winners I've ridden," his rider said after steering his fourth winner of this race. "He feels like a very good horse and the hardest part was pulling him up afterwards."

Novellist had a mighty reputation prior to the G1 Deutsches Derby last July, and it was warranted after he won the G3 Albert Von Metzler-Rennen at Frankfurt and Cologne's G2 Oppenheim-Union-Rennen by a combined margin of 11 lengths. In the event, what had looked a sure bet turned into anticlimax as he was stripped of his unbeaten record by Pastorius (Ger) (Soldier Hollow {GB}) in the Hamburg Classic, and then flopped when fourth in the G1 Grosser Preis von Baden in September. Andreas Wohler stated that he had excuses for both reversals and kept the faith, sending him to Italy for a confidence-restoring win in the G1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club Italiano at San Siro in October. His return success in the G2 Grosser Preis der Badischen Unternehmer over 11 furlongs May 12 was workmanlike, but he showed in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud that he was moving forward at a rate of knots under a highly complimentary Ryan Moore.

That rider missed out due to his commitment to Freemason Lodge and Hillstar (GB) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) and William Buick also sidestepped the chance for the ride as a result of his own tie with the Gosden stable, so it was Murtagh who stepped in during a rich spell of form in the saddle as he continues his fledgling training career. With Cirrus des Aigles (Fr) (Even Top {Ire}) apparently better for his comeback fifth at Saint-Cloud and favored, the German raider was shuffled back in the betting, but turned that logic on its head with an emphatic display here. Content to settle the bay in fourth as Ektihaam (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) ensured a strong pace to aim at, Murtagh gave him a squeeze in early stretch and that was enough for him to seize the advantage from Trading Leather passing the quarter pole and dominate the finale. "I loved the way when I asked him to stretch he wanted to get on with it," his rider said. "It was the way I dreamt about it last night, although I thought it was going to be more dramatic and a fighting finish. He didn't feel like he was breaking the track record and I think he will go on and improve again. I was third choice, but it's great to get on these horses. The trainer was very cool beforehand and he has done it all around the world. I just feel like I can win on anything at the moment." Andreas Wohler added, "I used to come here as a kid and watch it in the school holidays and now I am here as a trainer. We knew he'd improved since his last race, but to do so as much as that is unbelievable."

Wohler is looking at the Oct. 6 G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for the winner now. "His main target now is the Arc and he will have one race beforehand," he added. "The two options are the G2 Prix Foy [at Longchamp Sept. 15] and [Sept. 1] G1 Grosser Preis von Baden, and it's more likely we'd go for the Grosser Preis."

Wohler cont, "He's won a group race in Germany and a Group 1 in Italy last year, but to make a stallion he needs more international form, so we went to Saint-Cloud and then on to here. It's the strength of our German horses that they mature late and when stepped up in distance. I was 24 when my father died in 1986, and I had to take over the licence earlier than I was expecting. The best horse I had before was Lomitas, who was exceptional, but this horse is exceptional as well." Jim Bolger was not disappointed with the effort of Trading Leather, and plans to keep the game homebred busy, "That was very satisfactory. Everything went well, except for the last furlong. We probably could have done with a little more pace early on, but all in all we're very happy. We'll stick to the original plan, all being well--he'll go to York for the [Aug. 21] G1 Juddmonte International, and then the G1 Irish Champion S. [at Leopardstown Sept. 7] before coming back here for the [Oct. 19] G1 Champion S."

Sir Michael Stoute said of Hillstar, "He's going the right way. We're delighted with him and I don't think we'll be dropping him back in class now." Cirrus des Aigles, who failed to pick up in his usual style and could only finish fourth, could also take in the York feature, according to trainer Corine Barande-Barbe. "Christophe [Soumillon] said he needed a run--he took a breath three times, which showed he needs a race and the going was quite fast. But I am not disappointed, competition always improves him. Even if we do work at home, it is not the same and he knows a lot as well. We might go to York next for the Juddmonte International, but we have a date here in October." Soumillon added, AHe ran very well--he wasn't really fit--and the horse needs a race. The speed we went under the track conditions, it was hard to follow that."

TDN 7/28/13

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