King Charles and Queen to have first runner in Classic as Desert Hero strikes

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Desert Hero enters St Leger reckoning with win at Goodwood (Image: Getty Images)
Desert Hero enters St Leger reckoning with win at Goodwood (Image: Getty Images)

The King and Queen are set to have their first runner in a Classic after success at Glorious Goodwood on Thursday.

They captured another feature prize at a major racing festival when Desert Hero landed the Group 3 John Pearce Racing Gordon Stakes.

Desert Hero, trained by William Haggas, has already provided the couple with an unforgettable introduction to being owners of the Royal string with victory at Royal Ascot in June.

He got up in the last strides to land the King George V Stakes by a head under jockey Tom Marquand.

Facing a much stiffer test at pattern level at Goodwood, he passed with flying colours when he scored by a neck from Chesspiece.

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The Gordon is a recognised trial for the St Leger, the last Classic of the year, and Desert Hero was cut to 8-1 from 16-1 by William Hill to win the Doncaster Classic, which the Queen won in 1977 with Dunfermline.

“I will chat with William but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’ll want to roll the dice,” said John Warren, the King and Queen’s racing advisor. “There is almost no downside in giving it a go, so why not?

“We’ve been around a lot of horses for a long time and there are very few horses that have the brain and will to win and this horse really is a pleaser.”

The sport of racing lost its most important supporter when Queen Elizabeth II died last year and there was concern that the King would not show the same commitment when he ascended to the throne.

Warren said: “I spoke to the King thirty odd years ago and he always said when he came to supporting the British bloodstock industry he was always going to be committed.

“Results like this make the King appreciate why we do what we do and it’s incredible to be lucky enough in his first year as a proper owner, along with the massive support of the Queen, that the two of them can really enjoy a horse of his calibre, which is fantastic.”

Jon Lees

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