Mark Johnston saw Royal Patronage's hopes hindered by a gash at Doncaster
Mark Johnston saw Royal Patronage's hopes hindered by a gash at Doncaster

Connections of Royal Patronage were left rueing their misfortune after he suffered a gash when struck at Doncaster on Saturday. 

The leading juvenile was lining up to race in the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster in the final Group One race of the British Flat season. 

He was well fancied heading into the contest based on his performance at Newmarket last month, where he was beaten by a neck by Coroebus in the Royal Lodge Stakes. 

Mark Johnston's colt was running well but came eighth of eight, 17 lengths behind hot favourite Luxembourg to secure trainer Aiden O'Brien the victory -— equalling the late Sir Henry Cecil's record of ten wins in the Doncaster contest. 

Assessments after the race discovered he suffered a gash above his hock, which explained his very slow finish to the one-mile contest. 

Harry Herbert, managing director for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: "Unfortunately he was struck into and returned with a nasty gash just above his hock. 

"The jockey [Jason Hart] was very happy with him travelling but he said he felt him wobble behind and he obviously eased him down immediately and pulled him up. 

"We were obviously very disappointed. It was too bad to be true and I feared the worst watching him being pulled up. 

"These things happen. It's just very unfortunate that it happened in a Group One race, where you hope you've got a chance." 

Despite the blip on Saturday, Herbert is confident his charge can bounce back to try and win the Derby next year. 

He added on the two-year-old colt: "He'll have the winter off and he'll be back, hopefully for a Derby trial in the spring." 

Brian Meehan was encouraged by Hannibal Barca's showing at Doncaster
Brian Meehan was encouraged by Hannibal Barca's showing at Doncaster

Trainer Brian Meehan also has high hopes for the future for Hannibal Barca, after he outran his odds in the Doncaster Group One. 

The two-year-old was racing for just a third time after und at Ascot and Salisbury — the latter being the venue for a maiden win in a novice race. 

He was only two lengths behind winner Luxembourg finishing fourth at Group One level despite being a general 25/1 outsider prior to the start of the race. 

Now, Meehan is optimistic the son of Zoffany could stand out at the highest level in 2022. 

He won the 2009 Craven Stakes with Delegator before he was pipped to the 2000 Guineas by the great Sea The Stars, and now a similar plan is afoot for Hannibal Barca. 

The Manton handler said: "I think a mile or a mile and a quarter is going to be his best trip and we could start him off in the Craven next year.

"He's a proper horse, and there's a lot of physical improvement in him. He's definitely Group One class for next year."

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