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Highest Ground too good for Leicester rivals

Highest Ground made the most of having his sights lowered with victory in the Sharnford Conditions Stakes at Leicester.

Sir Michael Stoute’s colt looked an exciting prospect when making a winning debut at the Midlands venue on his only start as a juvenile – a theory which was given more weight after he put the high-class Waldkonig in his place at Haydock 12 months ago.

He was a narrowly beaten favourite in the rescheduled Dante Stakes on his next appearance, but disappointed on his final start of 2020 in Newmarket’s Darley Stakes and finished a long way behind Waldkonig on his return to action in the Gordon Richards at Sandown in April.

Faced with just four rivals, the son of Frankel was a 10-11 shot for his latest assignment under Ryan Moore.

Odds-on backers would have been sweating with a couple of furlongs to run as the admirable Outbox galloped on in front, but Highest Ground eventually wore him down and passed the post a length to the good.

Alan Cooper, racing manager for owner-breeders the Niarchos Family, said: “I should think that was a nice confidence boosting race.

“After his first run of this season, we discovered he had the equivalent of a sore throat afterwards. That was the reason we have given him more time since, to let it all clear up.

“It’s nice to see him back in the winner’s enclosure.”

Highest Ground holds an entry in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday week.

When asked whether that Group Two contest was a potential target, Cooper added: “I think that was one of the ideas behind running today, to consider the Hardwicke.

“Let’s get home and regroup with Sir Michael at the end of the week and take it from there.

“We’ll see what Sir Michael and Ryan recommend and work out the programme.”