Johnny Murtagh has confirmed that his Ebor and Irish St Leger hero Sonnyboyliston will not travel to Australia for this year’s Melbourne Cup.
Just three weeks after his lucrative York success, the four-year-old gave the legendary jockey his first classic success as a coach by overtaking Twilight Payment in a thrilling Curragh finish on Sunday.
Murtagh admits the Melbourne Cup is a big draw, but believes his stable star has done enough for this season.
He told www.racing.com: “I spoke to the owners the other day and the horse has done really well in the race.
“But to be fair to him he ran into the Ebor and raced in a grueller here at the Curragh – a very popular one and six mile race. It was a titanic battle with him and Twilight Payment and he came in head .
“He’s been away for a long time and hasn’t let us down all year. I think it’s time for him to take a little break now.
“He’s only four years old and is one of the best stayers in Europe right now. Stradivarius is not getting any younger.
“The Melbourne Cup was on our minds, but it wasn’t the plan – and to go out there and face the best in Australia, the Melbourne Cup has to be the number one goal.”
Murtagh revealed that Australian owners had been in contact with a view to purchasing Sonnyboyliston from the Kildare Racing Club.
But with increased measures in place for horses traveling down, the connections are keeping the gelding for the time being.
“It’s very difficult to go there completely,” Murtagh added.
“It’s hard to get people out there with the Covid restrictions. It’s hard to go there as a coach and enjoy all the preparation and everything that goes with carnival.
“We had a few offers. There were a few offers before the Ebor and there were a few offers after the Ebor.
“But everyone was saying ‘give him a bone scan’ and ‘we don’t want to buy him unless he can come here and race.’
“He took over Hong Kong last year which is pretty tough, and it was just at the last minute that the guys decided to keep him and run him like a four year old, which was good for us.
“He’s a pretty solid horse, but he’s had a tough season and I just didn’t want to put him through all of that at this point of the year.”