Belfast Telegraph

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Rip lands International prize

Rip Van Winkle benefited from a strong Johnny Murtagh ride to deny owner Prince Khalid Abdullah a famous victory in the Juddmonte International at York.

Aidan O'Brien's four-year-old was beaten by Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes over a mile last time out but relished the extra two furlongs on the Knavesmire.

Abdullah, who sponsors the race through his breeding operation, looked as if he would be celebrating a one-two as Twice Over led Byword into the final furlong, but Murtagh galvanised the 7-4 favourite for a last-gasp half-length success.

Murtagh said: "I love this horse. I rode him in the Derby and Guineas - he didn't show his true self there, but he showed when he won his two Group Ones last year what a champion he was.

"He didn't run his race in America (Breeders' Cup Classic), but I think he's a great horse, he comes through anything.

"Aidan had a plan this year with him that he was going to take it slow. There's a lot of big races coming up for him at the end of the year and we want to have him fresh and well.

"I think he'll improve again from today, he was still a bit rusty. Sometimes when they kick he can't go with them, but when he gets into top gear he comes home really well."

O'Brien added: "They didn't go very fast and we were just looking to see him relax, that was the important thing. You have to say Johnny was marvellous. He just let him take his time to come into the race and let things happen.

"We wouldn't mind stepping back to a mile again now and we could look at the QEII. There's the Irish Champion Stakes, but we have the other horse for that (Fame And Glory).

"Last year the Breeders' Cup was a wash-out because he was tired coming into the race. This year we have geared him for the second part of the season and you would love to go back to America again, either for the Mile or the Classic."

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