Melbourne Cup: Johnny Murtagh has ruled out a trip to Australia for the Ebor and Irish St Leger winner Sonnyboyliston

Melbourne Cup
Source: Skysports

Melbourne Cup: After winning the Ebor at York and the Irish St Leger at the Curragh, trainer Johnny Murtagh plans to give Sonnyboyliston a ‘little break’; Australian-based owners inquire about purchasing the four-year-old son of Power.

Johnny Murtagh has stated that Sonnyboyliston, his Ebor and Irish St Leger hero, will not be competing in the Melbourne Cup this year.

The four-year-old beat Twilight Payment in a thrilling finish at the Curragh on Sunday, just three weeks after his lucrative victory at York. It was the great jockey’s first Classic victory as a trainer.

The Melbourne Cup is a big attraction for Murtagh, but he believes his stable star has done enough for this season.

According to, he said: “I spoke with the owners the other day, and the horse did exceptionally well in the race.

“But, to be fair, he’s run in the Ebor and a grueller here at the Curragh, both of which were really well run races over a mile and a half. With him and Twilight Payment, it was a titanic war, and he emerged victoriously.

“He’s been on the move for a while and hasn’t let us down until this year. I believe it is now time for him to take a break.

“He’s only four years old, but he’s already one of Europe’s best stayers. Stradivarius is no longer a youthful man.

“The Melbourne Cup was on our minds, but it wasn’t the plan – and if we’re going to compete against the best in Australia, the Melbourne Cup needs to be our top priority.”

Murtagh claimed that Australian-based owners have approached the Kildare Racing Club about obtaining Sonnyboyliston.

However, due to additional precautions in place for horses travelling to Australia, the gelding’s connections have decided to keep him for the time being.

“It’s quite difficult just to go down there,” Murtagh continued.

“With the Covid limits, it’s difficult to get folks there.” As a trainer, it’s difficult to get down there and experience the entire build-up and all that comes with the Carnival.

“There have been a few offers.” Before the Ebor, there were a few offers, and after the Ebor, there were a few offers.

“However, everyone was saying, ‘Get him a bone scan,’ and ‘We don’t want to buy him unless he can come down here and run in the race.’

“He passed the vetting for Hong Kong last year, which is really rigorous, and the guys chose to keep him and run him as a four-year-old at the last minute, which worked out well for us.”

“He’s a good horse, but he’s had a tough season, and I didn’t want to put him through it again at this time of year.”

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