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    Desert Hero returns for a seasonal appearance
Desert Hero returns for a seasonal appearance
Desert Hero returns for a seasonal appearance. Source: racingfactors.com

Desert Hero returns for a seasonal appearance

Having famously given the King and Queen their first Royal Ascot victory last summer. Desert Hero is one of the main attractions at Sandown on Friday as he makes his seasonal debut in the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes.

After winning the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood, the four-year-old trained by William Haggas thrilled racegoers in Berkshire by donning the royal colours and establishing himself as a serious contender for the St Leger.

Haggas ran with plenty of credit to finish third, but he was unable to emulate Dunfermline, who 46 years earlier had given the late Queen Elizabeth II the last of her five British Classic victories in the Town Moor showpiece. Haggas is eager to make a comeback in Esher.

“He’s running over a mile and a quarter, but he’s a lovely horse and he should run a good race,” said the Somerville Lodge handler. “He’s got a turn of foot, he showed that last season, he’s not bad, so it will be interesting. It’s a nice, stiff track and it’s a good starting place for him. I think he’s a 12-furlong horse really but he needs to get started and this is as good a place as any to do that.”

John and Thady Gosden's Israr, who made a strong comeback to win the Group Two Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket last July and is back in action in the UK after a winter campaign in the Middle East, looks to be one of the biggest threats to Desert Hero.

On his most recent appearance in Qatar, the five-year-old finished a well-beaten ninth behind Rebel's Romance. On Friday, he will receive his first pair of blinkers.

Angus Gold said: “I think the team at Clarehaven just felt he was minding himself a bit in Qatar, hence the application of the headgear. He’s been in good form at home and in his best form, I’d like to think he’ll run well. The track should play to his strengths and hopefully, the blinkers might just get him to concentrate a bit. I think a mile and a quarter should be fine for him. He’s got plenty of toe on this horse, funnily enough. We’ve been trying to make him a staying horse and I think he’s got a bit more speed than we gave him credit for.”

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