Johnny Murtagh is poised to ride Duke Of Marmalade rather than stablemate Henrythenavigator in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Saturday week.
The jockey is in an enviable position, as the Aidan O’Brien-trained colts have won nine Group One races between them this year alone.
Duke Of Marmalade has been responsible for five of those, including the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and appears to currently have the edge in Murtagh’s thinking over the dual 2000 Guineas winner.
O’Brien said: “For the Classic you need a horse who definitely gets a mile and a quarter. It is a race where you have to be tough and hard.
“The Duke is an unbelievably tough horse, with a great will to win, and if any horse can cope it will be him.
“We can’t be sure that Henry will get a mile and a quarter, and at the moment Johnny is favouring riding Duke Of Marmalade over Henrythenavigator. We have booked John Velazquez for whichever one he doesn’t ride.”
Curlin is the 5-2 favourite with Coral for a Classic repeat. Henrythenavigator is a 6-1 chance, with his recent Ascot conqueror Raven’s Pass next at 7-1 ahead of Duke Of Marmalade at 8-1.
Coral spokesman David Stevens said: “Although there has only been one previous European winner of the Classic, this year’s raiding party is arguably the strongest ever, and with Curlin unproven on the synthetic surface, it would be no surprise if we saw good support for all three European stars.”
Breeders’ Cup Classic, Coral bet: 5-2 Curlin, 6-1 Go Between, Henrythenavigator, 7-1 Casino Drive, Colonel John, Raven’s Pass, 8-1 Duke Of Marmalade, 12-1 Well Armed, 20-1 Champs Elysees, 25-1 Tiago, Student Council, Mast Track, 33-1 Smooth Air, Pyro.