Royal Patronage emerged as a Derby contender as he rallied in spectacular style to win the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.
Trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by Jason Hart, the Wootton Bassett colt was a shock 25-1 winner of the Acomb Stakes at York last time out but went off a 7-2 chance in this mile affair, with Coroebus the 85-40 joint-favourite in company with Masekela.
Hart set out to make all aboard Royal Patronage as he had done on the Knavesmire, bowling along nicely until Coroebus was produced to challenge with a startling turn of foot by William Buick over two furlongs out.
It appeared to be a matter of just how far the Godolphin runner would win by as he stretched clear, with a handful of lengths in hand passing the furlong marker.
However, Hart switched Royal Patronage from the inside rail to the middle of the track and his Highclere Racing-owned partner found a second wind meeting the rising ground, producing another burst as Coroebus seemed to run out of petrol, eventually grabbing the lead in the final stride to win by a neck.
Betfair offer 16-1 from 33s about Royal Patronage for next year’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom, while Coral make him a 20-1 shot for the 2000 Guineas and 25s for the premier Classic.
Johnston said: “The Godolphin team were standing beside me watching the race and with a furlong to go they thought they’d won and I thought they’d won.
“I was actually very happy with the run at that point as I could see he was starting to stay on away from the pack and I was thinking to next year and thinking ‘this will be one for the Derby trials early’ on.
“Jason said he was a bit free early on, but as soon as he hit the rising ground he just found another gear.
“We had some doubts about stepping up to the mile early on as he has a lot of speed. We almost supplemented him for the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster – it literally went to the wire, deciding whether to supplement or not.
“We decided against it in the end, which we regretted after it broke up so much, but we were reasonably convinced that going further was going to be better. He certainly proved that today.”
On immediate plans, the Middleham trainer said: “I don’t know (if will run in the Vertem Futurity Trophy). I’ll speak to Harry (Herbert, of Highclere) and see what he has to say.
“He looks like a Derby horse. It’s great when you’ve got a horse who you’re thinking might stay a mile and a half, but is showing so much speed early on as well. That’s ideal.”
Hart said: “He over-raced in the first part of the race and really took off with me. But in hindsight it probably helped me.
“This is a good horse and people keep underestimating him. When he met the rising ground he found an extra gear.
“He’s just a really good horse and when you ask him he finds plenty for pressure.”
There will clearly be another day for the imposing Coroebus, who looked so exciting when showing his change of gear.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: “It’s always hard when you pass them all and then get passed again.
“He’ll have learned plenty today. We’ve been pleased with him at home and he’s a beautiful-looking horse.
“I think he’s just got a bit lonely out in front there in the end. He only had one run under his belt and got picked up by a horse who has had plenty of racing now.
“Take nothing away from the winner. He’d won an Acomb and he’s obviously a good horse.”