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.

Royal Patronage handed Newmarket mission

Royal Patronage is to head for the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes later this month following his surprise Group Three victory at York.

Connections of the Mark Johnston-trained colt feel the Acomb Stakes scorer will relish the step up to a mile for the Group Two contest at Newmarket on September 25.

However, they did think of supplementing the Wootton Bassett colt for the Champagne Stakes over seven furlongs at Doncaster on Saturday.

“We did consider the Champagne. We didn’t have him in there, I think it closed before he won the Acomb, so we were toying with the idea of supplementing,” said Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

“That is a very hot race and looking at his pedigree and everything, I think we will probably go for the Royal Lodge and go that route with him.”

He added: “He gave everyone a great thrill at York. He’s obviously a very exciting prospect and we’ll learn more about him at Newmarket. He’s very well.”

Royal Patronage registers shock Acomb victory

Royal Patronage, the outsider of five at 25-1, ran his rivals into the ground to take the Group Three honours in the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes at York.

The Mark Johnston-trained youngster was the most experienced horse in the five-runner field with three previous outings and he gave a thoroughly professional performance to see off better-fancied opposition in smooth style.

Jason Hart dictated affairs from the start on Royal Patronage, who only opened his account three weeks ago. He wound up the tempo in the straight and comfortably kept the rest of the field at bay.

He stayed on strongly to score by two and a quarter lengths from Imperial Fighter to give Johnston back-to-back victories in the race and a fifth in all.

Bookmakers Coral quoted Royal Patronage at 25-1 for the Qipco 2000 Guineas with Paddy Power going 20-1.

Johnston said: “While he was the most exposed, I was surprised he was the outsider but there was plenty of hype around the other runners.

“We were discussing after Epsom that this seemed the obvious place to come and we did bring him to the Dante meeting which shows what we thought of him.

“He was beaten over six first time out, ran well second time at Sandown and then showed what we always thought of him at Epsom.

“We won this with Bijou d’Inde way back when it was a conditions race. Darryll Holland rode him, jumped off and said he was a Group One horse and I think you need to be one to win the Acomb.

“He’s won a Group Three and the only way is up for the moment.

“Jason rode him last time and does ride fairly regularly for us, so was the obvious choice to ride.

“I’m not sure where we’ll go next, he’s got quotes for the Guineas but he might be more a Dante type.”

Imperial Fighter (right) had to settle for second
Imperial Fighter (right) had to settle for second (Nigel French/PA)

Andrew Balding was satisfied with the effort of runner-up Imperial Fighter.

He said: “I’m happy with that – it was a good run.

“He’ll stay further in time and he’s going to be a nice horse.”