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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.”