Hopes high for Royal Patronage at Newmarket

Royal Patronage will bid for a hat-trick of wins when he lines up for the Group Two Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

The Mark Johnston-trained two-year-old was an impressive winner of the Group Three Acomb Stakes at York when last seen, triumphing by two and a quarter lengths at 25-1 from Imperial Fighter, denting one or two lofty reputations in the process.

The victory followed a five-length success in a novice event at Epsom, with a prior run in a Sandown maiden seeing him finish fourth behind subsequent Group One National Stakes winner Native Trail.

The son of Wootton Bassett will now progress in both grade and trip as he takes on the one-mile Group Two Royal Lodge.

“We’re very excited to see him line up,” said Harry Herbert, racing manager to owners Highclere Racing.

Royal Patronage in the Acomb Stakes
Royal Patronage in the Acomb Stakes (Nigel French/PA)

“He was impressive last time at York, I don’t think there was any fluke about that and he’s now put together two very good performances.

“He’s improving rapidly so we’re hopeful that he’ll give everyone a big shout on Saturday.

“If he’s come on the same amount as he has been showing in all of his races then you’d have to hope he’d be right up the sharp end – we love the horse and it’s great to hear he has been working impressively.”

Masekela also has form behind Native Trail, having come home just a short head behind the 2000 Guineas favourite when second in the Superlative Stakes at the July Meeting.

Masekela ridden by Oisin Murphy
Masekela ridden by Oisin Murphy (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Andrew Balding’s charge then went on to succeed in the Listed Denford Stakes at Newbury, beating Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy by a head when the two were joint 6-4 favourites – with the runner-up going to take the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

He too steps up in class and trip, having so far been campaigned over six and seven furlongs.

“His form has worked out very well,” Balding said.

“He’s working well, we’re really happy with the horse and we’re hopeful for a good run on Saturday.”

Native Trail’s trainer Charlie Appleby is represented by Coroebus, the winner of a novice on his sole start at Newmarket in August.

“Coroebus won his maiden in a raw style, but did it well and has come on for the run,” Appleby told the Godolphin website.

“We have been pleased with him going into this and feel that he is ready to test himself in Pattern company.”

Elsewhere in the field of seven is Aidan O’Brien’s Howth, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Group Two KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes run over a mile at Leopardstown.

Ian Williams’ Oneforthegutter was placed in a Group Three on his last outing when a narrow second in the Prix Francois Boutin, with Ralph Beckett’s Seattle King and Donnacha O’Brien’s Unconquerable completing the field.

Masekela has Royal Lodge date

Andrew Balding is looking forward to seeing Masekela tackle a mile for the first time in the Group Two Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

A winner on debut, Masekela then finished fifth in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot to Point Lonsdale – but it is the form of his last two races which really catches the eye.

He was beaten just a short head in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket by subsequent Group One hero Native Trail – and then got the better of Roger Varian’s Bayside Boy, an impressive winner of the Champagne Stakes since, in a Listed event at Newbury.

“He’s in good form and he’s going to the Royal Lodge next weekend,” said Balding.

“The form of his races is working out well – which is always good to see.

“An extra furlong should really suit him in the Royal Lodge, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Masekela denies Bayside Boy in Denford thriller

Masekela got back up in the shadow of the post to claim Listed honours in the Denford Stakes at Newbury.

Bayside Boy took a narrow advantage in the final furlong, but Masekela battled on bravely and regained the lead in the dying strides.

Masekela (6-4 joint favourite), trained by Andrew Balding, set the pace in the hands of William Buick on what was his fourth start, his previous run being a short-head defeat in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket.

The El Kabeir colt gamely stuck to his guns to land the seven-furlong contest, formerly known as the Washington Singer Stakes, by a head from his market rival, who lost little in defeat on just his second outing.

William Buick returns victorious aboard Masekela
William Buick returns victorious aboard Masekela (PA)

Owner Mick Mariscotti said: “He fought back well after being headed and William says he will be a nice three-year-old.

“He has a couple of entries. In the Champagne Stakes over seven at Doncaster, but the Royal Lodge over a mile might be preferred as long as Andrew agrees. It’s probably the right distance.

“He was bought from Book 2 (Tattersalls) after we saw him on video and he’s a lovely, big horse.”