Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Johnny Puts Faith in Rip

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Johnny Puts Faith in Rip

Article excerpt

HIS faith in Rip Van Winkle has been unshakeable all season and Johnny Murtagh is counting on his trusty comrade to deliver in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita this evening.

The Ballydoyle ace has stayed loyal to the Sussex Stakes and QEII winner throughout the summer despite his on-going foot problems and believes his partner's guts and determination will reap the ultimate reward under the Californian sunshine.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien has said a similar performance to those which Rip Van Winkle produced at Ascot or Goodwood will be good enough to see him home on the Pro-Ride and Murtagh is of the same mind set.

The jockey has spent the week enjoying Los Angeles and after a family trip to Universal Studios on Wednesday, his sights are now firmly set.

He said: "I have always dreamed of winning the Classic. It is the best race and all of the best horses run in it.

"It is the one race I would love to win.

"When you are sitting at home watching it on TV and the Classic comes along you do get that buzz.

"Come Saturday and for Rip to win it would be brilliant. You can see what it means to everyone at Ballydoyle and everyone is getting a buzz out of this."

Rip Van Winkle was noticeably sweaty when working on the track Wednesday morning, but Murtagh is unfazed by that and believes his partner can end the winning run of wonder-mare Zenyatta.

He said: "The lad who rides him out says he is really bouncing and I have always thought the surface would suit him with the way he moves across the ground.

"He stays well and I think that a mile and a quarter around here will be tailor-made for him.

"He is a horse I really like. He has a fantastic cruising gear and a great heart.

"If he can win this I think it will justify all of the thoughts I have had of him.

"He would die for you and is all heart. …

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