Even though he is now a trainer in his own right back in his native Ireland, Murtagh was the leading jockey at Royal Ascot and won the Betfred Cambridgeshire a fortnight ago on Educate.
“Oriental Fox’s chance is there for everyone to see – he won the trial and is 2lb ‘well-in’ on the ratings,” said Middleham-based Johnston.
Platinum is seeking a four-timer for Middleham’s Phil Kirby, a rising star of the training ranks.
A Christmas present for his equine artist wife Philippa, he said: “It’s exciting to be going into a race like this with a big chance. That’s all you can ask for.”
John Quinn runs the 2011 totesport Trophy winner Recession Proof, fresh from a York pipe-opener, and the outsider Moidore.
“Recession Proof ran quite well at York after a long time off and he seems in good fettle since,” said Malton-based Quinn.
“It was his first run in a long time, but he’s had a good while to get over it since and I’m happy with him at the moment. Moidore is well and has been running well all year and the more rain they get, the better, to be honest.”