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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.”

Cobh on upward curve for Royal Lodge bid

Clive Cox is encouraged by Cobh’s progress on and off the track as the improving juvenile moves up to Group company for the first time in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.

Cobh has twice run in Listed company so far, finishing second in the Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot to Richard Hannon’s Chindit before taking Salisbury’s Stonehenge Stakes.

He takes a significant step up in class in Saturday’s Group Two, over a mile.

Cox said: “He was an impressive winner of the Stonehenge at Salisbury, clearly getting the mile well.

“He’s a big, scopey individual who has continued to physically develop with his progression on the race track.

“We’re really looking forward to him stepping up to Group Two level.”

Among the opposition is Ralph Beckett’s New Mandate, who heads to the Rowley Mile off the back of two successive wins.

The gelded son of New Bay shed his maiden tag at Sandown, before going on to win the Listed Flying Scotsman Stakes at Doncaster two weeks ago.

“Both New Mandate and the jockey (Frankie Dettori) were impressive at Doncaster to go through a tight gap and win the Flying Scotsman,” said Beckett.

“He was the only horse to come up that far rail and win all meeting.”

New Mandate is set to run over a mile for the first time, having so far been campaigned over seven furlongs, but Beckett has no doubts about the suitability of the trip.

“I’m really looking forward to the Royal Lodge, and the mile will be no problem,” he said.

“He is out of an Authorized mare and is by New Bay, so he should handle some juice in the ground.

“He was a nightmare early on – that is why we gelded him back in January. He is a good work horse, and that is why we took the jump into Listed class on a mark of 89 last time.”

Mark Johnston’s Acomb Stakes winner Gear Up is also in the line-up, having won his first two starts.

Aidan O’Brien is represented by Ontario, the only runner with existing Group Two form having been beaten a length when third in the Futurity Stakes at the Curragh last month.

Roger Charlton’s Pleasant Man makes up the field of five in what will be just his second racecourse appearance, after winning on his debut at Haydock at the start of this month.