A childhood holiday blossomed into a grown man’s dream as German trainer Andreas Wohler scored a second consecutive success for his native land with Novellist landing the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth at Ascot.
Wohler spent his vacations as a boy attending the Group 1 mid-summer showpiece and returned some years later to follow Danedream’s 2012 victory and saddle Novellist to a thumping five-length triumph, which shaved over two seconds off the 2400 metre track record.
The Bremen-based trainer headed to Ascot with his four-year-old at the top of his game having recently landed the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, a strike which stretched his race record to seven wins from nine starts.
He had King George favourite Cirrus Des Aigles behind on that occasion and confirmed that form under Johnny Murtagh to leave three-year-old’s Trading Leather and Hillstar to fight out the minor honours.
Cirrus Des Aigles was reported to still be below peak fitness on his second outing of the campaign and finished fourth, one place ahead of Universal and two in front of Emirates Melbourne Cup stalwart Red Cadeaux.
Trainer Ed Dunlop will now ready the 2011 runner-up for anther journey down under but whether he contests the Cup or the Caulfield Cup has yet to be decided.
Dunlop said: “That was his final run in Europe and you’ll next see him in Australia. He will have a break now before heading out there but there has been no decision as to which race he runs in.”
Universal was another for whom connections had been pondering a Melbourne Cup tilt but that is now appearing unlikely with a trip the Far East favoured.
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to owner Abdulla Al Mansoori, said: “I think he is the right horse for the Melbourne Cup but it is a long way to travel and the Japan Cup is a more likely target.”
Winning trainer Wolher said: “To win like that is unbelievable but even more so to do it in a record time.
“I used to come toEnglandon holiday as a kid and we would come to the King George – now I am here as a trainer and to win is unbelievable.
“The hardest thing for Johnny was pulling the horse up after the race. We couldn’t have said beforehand that he would have won that easily.
“It’s a huge prize to win – it’s the first time the older horses take on the three-year-olds and we have beaten the best three-year-olds easily.
“I was quite confident because the horse was really well coming here and that gave me confidence to go for this race. At first they didn’t go too fast today and then the pace quickened and quickened but my horse still cruised. I started walking down the steps a furlong before the winning post.
“His main target now is the Arc and he will have one race beforehand. The Arc is the big aim so that would make an Australian trip unlikely.”
Jim Bolger was satisfied with the run of Irish Derby winner Trading Leather, commenting: “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 and all being well – he’ll go to York for the Juddmonte International, then to Leopardstown for the Irish Champion Stakes and then back here for the Champion Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day.”