Japanese stint pays off as Murphy picks up King George ride on Cheval Grand

Oisin Murphy is reaping the rewards from a spell spent riding in Japan over the winter as he has bagged the ride on Cheval Grand in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday week.

Murphy's mount Cheval Grand, who won the Japan Cup in 2017, will be bidding to become the first Japanese-trained winner of the prestigious 1m4f Group 1.

He is a 20-1 shot in a market dominated by dual Arc winner Enable and Crystal Ocean, who heads the World's Best Racehorse rankings.

Murphy said: "I'm looking forward to Cheval Grand coming over – I'll ride him in the King George and hopefully the Juddmonte International after that – then looking towards the Arc for one of the Japanese horses, Kiseki or Saturnalia."

The rider enjoyed a stellar 2018, winning nine Group 1s, including four on Roaring Lion, and boosted his reputation during his month-long spell in Japan, booting home a five-timer on one nine-race card at Tokyo.

His impressive stint has ensured he will be a man in demand whenever the Japanese have a runner in Europe, and Murphy is hoping he could be the man to deliver the nation a much coveted first success in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Murphy added: "That's one reason why I devoted so much effort into my time there, for the chance of a good ride in the King George and Arc over the next five years. Enable and Crystal Ocean are the standout performers at the moment, but the French don't seem to have any at that level yet."