Desert Hero raises hopes of Classic glory for the King and Queen

Desert Hero emerged as a genuine Classic prospect for the King and Queen as he followed up his famous Royal Ascot success by landing the John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes at Goodwood.

The William Haggas-trained three-year-old raised the roof when carrying the royal silks to victory in the King George V Stakes, providing the King and Queen with their first winner at the showpiece meeting.

He had more to do stepping up to Group Three level, but proved up to the task under a typically well-judged ride from Tom Marquand.

A field of six runners set out to tackle the mile-and-a-half contest, with James Doyle intent on making every yard of the running aboard Chesspiece.

One by one his challengers came and went, but Marquand always looked confident in behind and after negotiating his way out of a pocket, Desert Hero powered home to get up and score by a neck.

The winner was cut to 6-1 from 16-1 by Betfair for the St Leger at Doncaster in September, a race the late Queen won in her Silver Jubilee year of 1977 with Dunfermline.

John Warren, racing manager for the winning owners, said: “This horse is so committed and brave. We don’t know if he will stay a mile and three-quarters yet, he’ll have to tell us whether he does. I’ll chat with William, who couldn’t be here today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they want to roll the dice and give it a go (the St Leger).

“Tom just said the horse is such a remarkable animal, he said he felt confident all the way through the race because the horse just wants to please. He’s a genuine horse, we’ve seen a lot of horses for a long time and there are very few horses who really have the brain and will to win and this horse really is a pleaser. He really wants to win and that is fantastic.

“William was pretty confident that if he could cope with the ground, then he was a horse who had made progress. I don’t know how you calculate the progress, but he thought he had really come on and he was physically maturing.

“Horses that are bred the way he is are the ones that actually can improve. They can come to their own in their career, this is the moment where they can make a move up the ranks.”

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