One-time Classic hope Consort booked his place at Royal Ascot when maintaining his unbeaten record in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown. Sir Michael Stoute’s three-year-old finished strongly to take the mile contest by two and a half lengths from Godolphin’s Secret Brief, with the highly regarded White Lake half a length away third.
The son of Lope De Vega, who had won his only previous start at two in a warm Newmarket maiden, had been touted for the 2,000 Guineas, only to fail to please in his early spring work. Stoute will now aim for bigger targets again.
“I was very impressed with the way he quickened. He has just taken a long time to come to himself this spring and only did his first piece of impressive work last week,” the trainer said. “We came here thinking he might want a mile and a quarter. It was pretty impressive over a mile. He could go for the St James’s Palace or the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot.”
Western Hymn kept on tenaciously to edge out the front-running Arab Spring by a head in the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes. The smart all-weather performer Tryster was unable to pick up when asked to challenge on his return to turf and was beaten more than nine lengths last of five.
The other Group Three race, the stayers’ Henry II Stakes, went to Vent De Force, who made all and galloped on resolutely to hold Trip To Paris by a length and three-quarters. Both are now set for the Ascot Gold Cup next month.
“You never know if they’ll stay two and a half miles in a truly run race, and you only find out when they run in the Gold Cup,” said the winning trainer, Hughie Morrison. “But he’s got a rounded-shaped belly that makes him look fat. We had one a few years ago like that and what they can do is fill their lungs and go again about three-quarters of a mile out.”