Desert Hero earned Cazoo Derby quotes with victory in the colours of the Queen at Haydock Park on Thursday.
The well-related Sea The Stars colt headlined a four-timer for Tom Marquand and William Haggas at the Merseyside track
Sent off at 4-1 for his debut in the Tuffx Glass EBF Novice Stakes over seven furlongs, he picked up strongly to lead just inside the furlong pole, powering on from there on to score by two and three-quarter lengths, in the process earning a 33-1 quote for Epsom.
Haggas was represented by his wife and assistant, Maureen, who said: “He was good. He has not been that straightforward at home – he was lovely in the winter and then just went off the rails a bit. Andrew Tinkler has been riding him and he’s got him back on track. In the last two weeks he has really got it together, but I didn’t expect him to do that.
“A furlong and a half down I thought wherever he finished he’d run a really nice race, because he was relaxed and moved well and it was just nice to watch. He looked a bit surprised afterwards, so I don’t know where we’ll go next because you wouldn’t want to throw him into the deep end too soon.”
On Derby talk, she added: “Everyone wants Her Majesty to win the Derby, so I think you’ll get people looking at anything that is by Sea The Stars and thinking, ‘he’ll stay, give him a Derby quote!’.
“We’re lucky that we’ve got some nice horses and they’re going well, but we’ve also got some very good staff who work really hard. You can’t do it without them and it’s so important.
“Tom is just fantastic and he makes a massive difference, he’s great to work with and talks sense and is probably the strongest jockey riding. He’s top class and I couldn’t say anything good enough about him because he makes a massive difference and we’re really lucky to have him.”
Marquand said: “He’s a lovely horse and it’s exciting for the Queen because having a two-year-old first time out winning in that manner is as good as it gets.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him so hopefully he can progress from today. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t, he was a bit green and a bit shy of it all, so there’s certainly progression. How much, I don’t know!”
Soulcombe (100-30), Substantial (7-2 co-favourite) and Hamaki (100-30) added to the gains for the Somerville Lodge team – and it could very easily had been five, with Thunder Legend beaten just half a length when third in the seven-furlong handicap.
Marquand said: “It’s great to come here and do that and it’s nice they’re all on William’s horses, too – they’re flying at the moment.
“To get four winners on the day is great, but it’s always the one that doesn’t win that annoys you and Thunder Legend is that! It would have been nice to have five, but four isn’t bad! William’s placed all of these beautifully and it’s easy to win on them when they’re in the right races.”