Tag Archive for: Royal Patronage

Royal Patronage poised to put Derby hopes on the line

Royal Patronage could bid to reignite the Derby dreams of his connections in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York next week.

Trained by Mark and Charlie Johnston, the Wootton Bassett colt won three times as a juvenile last season, including a narrow verdict over Saturday’s 2000 Guineas hero Coroebus in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket.

Royal Patronage renewed rivalry with Coroebus in the season’s first Classic, but after setting a fierce gallop for much of the way, he gave way late on and passed the post in eighth place.

Harry Herbert, managing director for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “Sadly he went way too quick. The fractions were crazy for him and he was never going to get home with those fractions.

“Thankfully he’s come back all right and he’s obviously very fresh. He virtually anticipated the gates opening and it was very hard for Jason (Hart) after that.

“He still ran very well and proved he has trained on, but it was absolutely not what we wanted to happen. We wanted him to travel with horses in front of him and finish his race off, not the other way round.”

The Derby was always viewed as Royal Patronage’s chief target and Herbert is hoping he can get his season back on track on the Knavesmire.

He added: “I would say it would be very likely he will run in the Dante and we’ll see if we can get it right because he’s a very talented colt and we need to find out more with regards to the Derby.

“The Dante does come up quick, I totally appreciate that, but the horse is in very good hands and speaking to Charlie Johnston we’re both singing off the same hymn sheet, but it’s entirely their call as regards the well-being of the horse.”

Harry Herbert (right) has high hopes for Lysander
Harry Herbert (right) has high hopes for Lysander (Tim Goode/PA)

Royal Patronage is one of two potential Derby runners for the Highclere team along with the William Haggas-trained Lysander.

Third on his only start at two at Newbury in the autumn, the son of New Approach opened his account in some style on his reappearance at Newcastle last week.

He holds an entry in this weekend’s Lingfield Derby Trial and will either test his Derby credentials there or in the Cocked Hat at Goodwood later in the month.

“He’ll either go to Lingfield or wait for the Cocked Hat. It’s completely William’s call and it depends which way round William wants to do it,” said Herbert.

“Do you run back quick after his very impressive race at Newcastle, or give him more time and run in the Cocked Hat? And let’s say he won at Goodwood, well then he’s still got two weeks until the Derby.”

He added: “We’re very excited about him. This horse has worked exceptionally well at home, he’s the most beautiful individual and has a wonderful pedigree.

“He’s got ticks in a lot of the right boxes and both Tom Marquand and Michael Hills have ridden him at home and been very impressed with him.

“He’s turned a few heads, so we’ll see. It’s a fair way to go from winning a novice at Newcastle to lining up in a Derby, but at the moment that’s the plan.”

Royal Patronage handed 2000 Guineas assignment

Royal Patronage has been given the green light to have a crack at the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

An impressive winner of the Acomb Stakes at York last summer, the Mark and Charlie Johnston-trained colt went on to beat leading Guineas hope Coroebus in a thrilling Royal Lodge over the Rowley Mile.

The Wootton Bassett colt suffered injury when disappointing on his final juvenile start in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, but having impressed in a racecourse gallop at Newmarket’s Craven meeting, connections have decided to roll the dice in the season’s first Classic on Saturday week.

Harry Herbert, chairman and managing director for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “After speaking with Mark and Charlie, we have decided to have a crack at the Guineas.

“He’s won a Group race over the Rowley Mile, so we know he acts on it very well, and he’s showing plenty of natural speed at home.

“He was working with some fast horses when he galloped at Newmarket the other day, albeit inferior rated horses, and he had absolutely no problem laying up with them having gone a decent clip.

“Touch wood he seems very well, there is only one Guineas and he has beaten the second-favourite, so we felt it would be madness not to throw one’s hat into the ring.”

Royal Patronage was widely expected to kick off his campaign in the Dante Stakes at York before a potential tilt at Derby glory in June.

And while he will instead return in the Guineas, a potential trip to Epsom remains on the radar.

Harry Herbert (right) has high hopes for Royal Patronage
Harry Herbert (right) has high hopes for Royal Patronage (Tim Goode/PA)

“We can use this as a Derby trial anyway, should that be the way he goes,” he added.

“If the Guineas trip turns out to be too short, the Derby would be one of his aims this year.

“But looking at his pedigree and the way he is at the moment, I think it’s absolutely right to let him take his chance at Newmarket.

“You can put a line through his Doncaster run as he was struck into and had a very nasty cut above his hock, so there was a very valid reason why he ran so far below par.

“He seems to have thrived through the winter and the stable is in great form as well, which obviously counts for a lot, so that’s where we head.”

The Highclere colours will also be carried in the Qipco 1000 Guineas by George Boughey’s Cachet, who booked her ticket with victory in the Nell Gwyn Stakes.

“I saw her this week and she is also in good form – George is very happy with her,” Herbert added.

“Having won the Nell Gwyn so well, she’ll line up in the 1000 Guineas and hopefully William Buick will ride her again.”

On having runners in the first two Classics of the year, he said: “It’s fantastic. It’s a big buzz, thrilling for the owners and everyone at Highclere – this is what we aspire to for our owners.

“We have a lovely group of horses for this year and hopefully we’ll have plenty of action and action in the right places.”

Triple Time delights Kevin Ryan in Newmarket spin

Triple Time tuned up for a tilt at the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes with a racecourse gallop down Newmarket’s Rowley Mile on Tuesday.

The Kevin Ryan-trained three-year-old was victorious twice last season, taking the Listed Ascendant Stakes over a mile at Haydock on his final outing as a juvenile.

Since then the Frankel colt has been to Redcar for a racecourse gallop, but Ryan wanted to ensure he had some experience of the Newmarket track and so brought him to do a piece of work prior to the opening day of the Craven meeting.

“He has been away to Redcar, but I just felt it was important to give him a feel of the track down here,” he said.

“He’s come from the seven (furlong marker) and really quickened up into the dip and out of it and took a fair bit of pulling up.

“Everything has gone according to plan and Andrea (Atzeni, jockey) was delighted with him, so he’s well on target for the big day.”

Options remain open after the Guineas, with the bay also holding an entry for the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp on May 15.

“He’s got options. He’s in the French Guineas, but obviously the Guineas is the best trial for whatever trip you’re going afterwards,” Ryan said.

“He’s a quick horse and doesn’t need a lead horse because he’s such a long-striding horse.

“He likes nice ground, but he’s won on soft ground and we’re not particularly worried about ground conditions either way.

Triple Time winning the Ascendant Stakes at Haydock
Triple Time winning the Ascendant Stakes at Haydock (David Davies/PA)

“Andrea was saying how well he’s done from two to three and how much stronger he is. He’s a big unit and it just took a couple of races to get him there – he was a little bit weak and was never as mature as he looked.

“It was a great performance at Haydock and it was always the plan to come here without a prep.”

Also galloping before the first Newmarket meeting of the season was Mark and Charlie Johnston’s Royal Patronage, who worked under Jason Hart with stablemates I’m A Gambler and Highland Premiere.

The Highclere Racing-owned colt won both the Group Three Acomb and the Group Two Royal Lodge last season – finishing in spectacular fashion to beat Coroebus – and currently holds entries for both the Guineas and the Dante at York.

“We’re very happy with that. Sometimes these gallops raise more questions than answers, but whatever he’s going to do it was good to have an outing to blow the cobwebs away and a trip down from Middleham as well,” said Johnston senior.

Royal Patronage (right) winning the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes
Royal Patronage (right) winning the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Tim Goode/PA)

“Whether he’s going to the Guineas or straight to the Dante, it’s still good to have had a racecourse gallop and there was some question about how much speed he’s got.

“They haven’t hung about there and we wanted to see if he could travel comfortably at that pace and Jason said he travelled very, very easily.

“Harry (Herbert, Highclere racing manager) had said we were going to the Dante and I just wanted to convince myself that we should keep the options open.

“This was the best place to bring him and we’re going to learn a lot about the Guineas opposition in the next week or so, so we can look at that as well.”

Cachet to test Classic claims on Nell Gwyn return

Classic prospect Cachet is on course to make her seasonal debut in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket.

The daughter of Aclaim was a leading juvenile filly last term, being placed in the Fillies’ Mile and Rockfel Stakes as well as finishing a close fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar on her latest start.

Trained by George Boughey, she is delighting connections ahead of her seasonal debut in the Group Three over seven furlongs on April 12, with connections eager to see if she is a contender for the Qipco 1000 Guineas.

Harry Herbert, racing manager for owner Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “She’s in great form, she worked very well last weekend. She’ll run in the Nell Gwyn. It’s always been her target race. She looks absolutely terrific and George (Boughey) couldn’t be happier with her.

“We’ll run her in the Nell Gwyn. She loves Newmarket, she’s never run a bad race there and see how we get on and whether we progress on to the Guineas or elsewhere.”

Highclere have another possible Classic candidate in Royal Patronage, although he may well bypass the Qipco 2000 Guineas and make his reappearance in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York with a view to running in the Cazoo Derby.

“He’s just done his first piece of easy work and was very impressive. Charlie and Mark (Johnston, trainers) are delighted with him. He’s in the Guineas but he’s much more likely to go for the Dante at York,” said Herbert.

“He’s bred to be a middle-distance, mile-and-a-quarter-plus horse. I see him more of a Derby horse than a Guineas horse. I suspect that is where we’ll go. It’s not cast in stone. The way we are chatting at the moment, York is a likely starting point.”

Royal Patronage won the Acomb and Royal Lodge Stakes in 2021 but suffered an injury when well-beaten in the Vertem Trophy at Doncaster in October.

Thunderous, who won the Dante in 2020, might make his comeback in the Listed Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham next Wednesday.

He has been sidelined since finishing fourth to Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot last summer.

“He’s back. He’s gelded, he’s had injury issues which has been very frustrating but he’s in great shape and working well. We might run him in the Further Flight at Nottingham. That’s a possibility,” said Herbert.

“There’s a 100 grand handicap at Newmarket over a mile and six (furlongs) but he’s that sort of horse – mile-four or mile-six.

“Having been gelded, he’s lighter and seems to be coming to hand earlier than he normally does.”

Royal Patronage likely to head down Derby route

Royal Patronage could be heading down the Cazoo Derby route, according to joint-trainer Charlie Johnston.

The Wootton Bassett colt can be backed at odds of 33-1 for both the Epsom Classic and the 2000 Guineas.

However, he is giving connections the impression he is going to be favoured by middle distances rather than the mile of the Guineas.

Royal Patronage produced a top-class performance when rallying in tremendous style to regain the lead from Coroebus in the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket in September.

His final run of the season can be ignored as he suffered an injury in running when last of eight to Luxembourg in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in October.

“We’ve had lots of excited Highclere owners coming here at regular intervals to see Royal Patronage, who seems to have wintered very well, but it is still very much the early days of his preparation for the season ahead,” said Johnston, who holds the licence with his father, Mark.

Charlie Johnston
Charlie Johnston (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We won’t see him before the Guineas at the absolute earliest and I think we’re starting now to lean towards the route of starting in the Dante with a Derby run in mind. He’s certainly the flagbearer (for the yard) in the three-year-old division.

“It always sticks in my head that dad has always said the best trial for the Derby is the Guineas and I think, probably going into the winter, we thought we had that as the favourite place for him to start this year.

“But looking at how he’s developed from two to three, he certainly physically looks more like a mile-and-a-quarter-plus horse than a miler now.

“Only when we start to do some faster work with him in March will we get a better handle on what distance is going to be optimum for him this season but looking at him, the physical shape and size of the horse now, he’s starting to scream a mile-and-a-quarter-plus.”

Johnston revealed Subjectivist will have the Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap as his intended first port of call at the Saudi Cup meeting in 2023 after he was ruled out for all of this year.

Subjectivist has not raced since being injured when winning the Gold Cup at Ascot last summer – but connections are looking to bring him back.

“We’re biting the bullet and leaving our best horse on the sidelines for this season, but we felt to give him the best chance of standing training going forwards we would rule this year out,” he said.

“He will come back into training in September with the Saudi Cup meeting in 2023 as his primary target.

“He hasn’t been ridden for quite some time. He’s still manageable – an entire that hasn’t been ridden for a long time can become quite fresh and difficult.

“We’ll look forward to getting him turned out in April time when the weather allows and give him some time out at grass this summer, then bring him back at the end of the summer with a view to getting him ready through the winter for this meeting next year.”

However, the Johnston team are to be represented in this month’s Red Sea Turf Handicap by Nayef Road.

Herbert keeping Patronage faith after Doncaster disappointment

Connections of Royal Patronage were left cursing their luck after the high-class juvenile was struck into during the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.

Mark Johnston’s colt lined up for the final Group One of the British Flat season with leading claims, judged on his defeat of subsequent Autumn Stakes winner Coroebus in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket.

But after making much of the running over Doncaster’s straight mile, Royal Patronage ended up passing the post a long last of eight runners – after which his injury came to light.

Harry Herbert, managing director for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “Unfortunately he was struck into and returned with a nasty gash just above his hock.

“The jockey (Jason Hart) was very happy with him travelling, but he said he felt him wobble behind and he obviously eased him down immediately and pulled him up.

“We were obviously very disappointed. It was too bad to be true and watching it – I was thinking ‘what’s going on here’, and feared the worst watching him being pulled up.

“These things happen – it’s just very unfortunate that it happened in a Group One race, where you hope you’ve got a chance.”

Herbert remains hopeful Royal Patronage can bounce back to stake a claim for Derby glory next year.

He added: “He’ll have the winter off and he’ll be back, hopefully for a Derby trial in the spring.”

Doncaster date for Royal Lodge hero Royal Patronage

Connections of Royal Patronage are looking forward to seeing him run in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster having seen his form repeatedly boosted.

Trained by Mark Johnston, the Wootton Bassett colt has won the Acomb and Royal Lodge on his last two starts, beating some highly-touted horses in the process.

He had Dewhurst runner-up Dubawi Legend behind him in the Acomb, while he battled back to beat Coroebus in the Royal Lodge having seemingly given best to the subsequent Autumn Stakes winner.

Royal Patronage also finished second to Dewhurst winner Native Trail in a Sandown maiden back in June.

“We’re heading to the Vertem Futurity,” said Harry Herbert, racing manager for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.

“Mark and Charlie (Johnston) are very happy with him – I’ve seen them at the sales – and the form is very much the hottest in the book, so we’re going to give it our best.

“He got unbalanced going into the dip in the Royal Lodge, then he very much powered home but his form all the way ties in, and you can’t take that away from the horse.”

He added: “We’re excited to see him take his chance at Doncaster, he very much deserves to run.

“If it went soft it wouldn’t really worry us, it was good to soft at Epsom when he won and he powered through that. I don’t think ground is an issue to him.

“He was second to Native Trail in a maiden but they were meeting at different points in their careers, ours has improved with every run significantly.”

Futurity option for Newmarket victor Royal Patronage

The Vertem Futurity Trophy could be next on the agenda for Royal Patronage following his thrilling victory at Newmarket on Saturday.

A surprise winner of the Acomb Stakes at York on his previous outing, Mark Johnston’s charge looked booked for minor honours in the Group Two Royal Lodge after Coroebus swept clear inside the final two furlongs.

But in a dramatic late twist, the leader was reeled in by Royal Patronage, much to the delight of the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing team.

“Royal Patronage’s victory was sensational. It’s not often you see that happen and he’s a very, very good horse,” said Highclere’s managing director Harry Herbert.

“It’s very exciting to have a horse like that to go to war with. We’re slightly letting the dust settle, but we’ll take a close look at the Vertem Futurity, I would guess.

“If the horse is well and Mark and Charlie are happy with him, that would certainly be a spot to look very closely at.”

The Wootton Bassett colt received ante-post quotes for next year’s Derby in the aftermath of his Royal Lodge success and Herbert hopes he can develop into a realistic contender for Epsom.

Jason Hart and Royal Patronage at Newmarket
Jason Hart and Royal Patronage at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

He added: “He’s certainly got that look to him. He stays well and is bred to stay, being a beautifully-bred horse from an Aga Khan family out of a Dalakhani mare.

“He’s a very exciting prospect who is getting better and better with his racing.”

Royal Patronage was one of three juveniles to carry the Highclere colours in Pattern company at Newmarket’s Cambridgeshire meeting.

The Andrew Balding-trained Harrow finished a creditable third in the Group Three Tattersalls Stakes on Thursday, while the following afternoon George Boughey’s Cachet found only Hello You too strong in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes.

“It was a terrific run from Cachet and with her we’ll take a very close look at the Fillies’ Mile, so long as George is happy to run her,” said Herbert.

“It looks as though she’ll enjoy going further and the step up to a mile will help.

“She goes on any ground, so if it were to come up soft at Newmarket for the Fillies’ Mile, that would be fine.

“With Harrow, we’ll just take a view. He’s had a busy season and it may be that’s that for him, but Andrew and I will sit down and discuss plans at some stage.”

Patronage powers to astonishing Royal Lodge success

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.

Royal Patronage (right) was too strong for Coroebus
Royal Patronage (right) was too strong for Coroebus (Tim Goode/PA)

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 Hart celebrates on top of Royal Patronage
Jason Hart celebrates on top of Royal Patronage (Tim Goode/PA)

“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.”

Coroebus looks to have a huge future, despite defeat
Coroebus looks to have a huge future, despite defeat (Tim Goode/PA)

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.”

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.”