Royal Patronage dancing To The Dante then the Derby

Charlie and Mark Johnston's Derby dreams are still alive with Royal Patronage. The three-year-old will head to the Dante first before the Epsom Downs.

Charlie and Mark Johnston's Royal Patronage has a Dante date at York, followed by the Epsom Derby.

The Johnstons aren't put off by Royal Patronage's eighth in the 2000 Guineas for he already beat Coroebus, the winner of the Classic, previously at Newmarket.

Royal Patronage couldn't quite live with the pace he set himself at HQ, going off like a train but then trailing off and with the Godolphin colt running on.

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."

A crack at the Epsom Derby has been the long-term target but the Dante can be the ideal preparation run at York.

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."

Highclere, quite literally on a high after the 1000 Guineas win with Cachet, have another potential Derby runner in the form of the William Haggas-trained Lysander.

"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."

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