Johnny Murtagh enjoys first Royal Ascot victory as a trainer with Create Belief

Create Belief wins the Sandringham Handicap (credit: Megan Ridgwell)


Create Belief gave both jockey Ben Coen and trainer Johnny Murtagh a first Royal Ascot success in the Sandringham Handicap for three-year-old fillies.

Plusvital Brand Ambassador, Johnny Murtagh had much success in the saddle at Royal Ascot, registering 43 victories during a distinguished career, but his first as a trainer will have been as sweet as any of those.

An impressive victory it was too, with Create Belief  pulling five and a half lengths clear of runner-up Samoot in the straight mile contest. Messidor as a further three lengths back in third.

Murtagh said: “I was very successful at this track as a jockey – I love the place. To come back as a trainer now, this means the world. It means the world to me, means the world to my wife, means the world to all the staff back home. It’s a special place, it’s a magical place, and it’s a magical day.

“Training is a much tougher game. You’re with the horses all the time, I’m responsible for 25 staff and huge thanks to them. The horses were in good form coming over and ran well.

“We liked Creative Belief at the start of the year. She didn’t get the distance over a mile and a quarter and then scored last time out. She got an 8lb penalty and that is not ideal coming here. But her work had really improved, and the rain helped her chances, as she likes to get her toe in.

“This is where I want to be. I’m a winner, a born winner. I want to be on the big stage. I give all the horses a chance to be good. I knew coming here, when the rain came this morning, I knew she had a big chance.

“We have had a few fillies like that, when they start improving you don’t know where they’re going to go, so it’s hugely satisfying. It’s a racing club. A lot of people are going to get a lot of pleasure out of this. It means the world to us.”

Coen said: “I grew up watching Johnny ride winners here, now I’m riding winners for him, it’s a dream come true.

“You couldn’t ask for a better mentor, especially coming here for my first time. He has filled me with confidence the whole time and it’s nice to pay him back with this.

“Coming here, I thought this was probably my best chance if the rain came, so I was happy this morning when I woke up and saw the rain. But I was a bit itchy when it was a bit touch and go. I was looking forward to this one all week, she’s brilliant.

“She jumped and travelled so easy. She came on the bridle at the two-furlong pole and took off – it was an unbelievable feeling, and I can’t thank Johnny [Murtagh] the owners enough for sticking with me on the big days.

“She loves cut in the ground, but other than the ground she’s very straightforward. You can make the running or you can sit in on her. She is a very relaxed filly, very easy going. I have always liked her, and she proved me right today.”

Earlier in the week, fellow Plusvital Ambassador Jim Bolger’s  Poetic Flare was a dominant winner of the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes. Read more here.


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