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Aesterius scorches Sandown turf in Dragon Stakes

Aesterius scorches Sandown turf in Dragon Stakes
Aesterius scorches Sandown turf in Dragon Stakes

Aesterius backed up his fine run at Royal Ascot with a dominant display in the Dragon Stakes at Sandown.

Trained by Archie Watson, Wathnan Racing paid £380,000 for him at the Goffs UK Breeze-Ups and he looked full of promise when making a winning debut at Bath a month later.

Having since finished fifth in the Norfolk Stakes behind fellow Wathnan-owned juvenile Shareholder, beaten only a length and a half, Aesterius was a 6-4 favourite to get back on the winning trail and James Doyle always looked like he had matters under control.

With Richard Hannon’s The Actor dropping away tamely, the Mehmas colt only had Hugo Palmer’s filly It Ain’t Two to worry about close home and he was not unduly pressed to score by a length and a quarter.

Given the owners’ Qatari connection, it is no surprise Aesterius is likely to head to the Goodwood Festival next.

Watson said: “He ran a huge race at Ascot and like a lot of the races there it was affected by the draw. He raced against Whistlejacket the whole way and didn’t get the chance to race against anything else. He ran a huge race and was only beaten just over a length.

“With half an eye on Goodwood this was the obvious race to come to in the meantime. He’s sharpened up and James was very happy. We would have preferred something better to lead us deeper into the race, James was just trying to keep a hold of him so he wasn’t landing in front three furlongs out.

“He’s done everything right and I’m sure he will improve again for getting a stronger pace to run at.”

He went on: “The Goodwood Festival is very important for these owners and we will most likely be aiming at the Richmond Stakes or the Molecomb Stakes, depending on what we think trip-wise.

“Because he galloped out so well over the stiff six at Ascot, before the race we were thinking Richmond, but watching that race live and immediate thoughts after, I would be thinking he would travel very well in a Molecomb.

“We’ll see where we fit in alongside other horses owned by the owner, but I would say it will be Goodwood next for one of those two races.”

Having watched Aesterius return to the winner’s enclosure, Watson is looking forward to his Coventry Stakes runner-up Electrolyte returning to the track next week, either at Newmarket or in France.

Beaten a nose by shock 80-1 winner Rashabar at the Royal meeting, Electrolyte holds an entry for the Group Two July Stakes on Thursday, which appears the trainer’s preferred option.

Watson added: “Newmarket is Plan A. Basically all of the similar horses will be entered in both the July Stakes and Prix Robert Papin next week and it would be a case of who goes where.

“Our first choice would be the July Stakes and I think the stiff six furlongs will suit him well – he’s a horse who will get seven furlongs later in the season.

“We do very little with them in between races and they just canter away. I’m very happy with him at home but we don’t look under the bonnet too much.

“It was a huge run at Ascot, it was just disappointing not to get the win in the Coventry.”

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