Meehan hails Festival hero City Leader

Crown Choice, centre, could be heading for Royal Ascot after his Goodwood success
Crown Choice, centre, could be heading for Royal Ascot after his Goodwood success
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Minellatillmorning won the Happy Birthday Sarah Cotty Handicap Hurdle. Picture: Fontwell Park

Balding celebrates Glory at Fontwell

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Brian Meehan paid tribute to Festival Stakes champion City Leader and declared: He has a heart the size of a house.

The six-year-old grey shrugged off injury and his advancing years to triumph in a thrilling renewal of the Listed race at Goodwood on Saturday.

The son of Fasliyev has failed to live up to the dazzling form he showed as a two-year-old – when winning the Royal Lodge and finishing second in the Racing Post Trophy.

But – after spending the whole of last season on the sidelines due to injury – he roared back to form on the Downs.

His late charge under jockey Martin Dwyer picked off Class Is Class and Principal Role by two heads, while it has prompted his trainer to look at Royal Ascot as the next stop.

‘It’s great to see him back,’ said Meehan.

‘He had a complicated injury and a lot of people worked very hard on him, both the vets and my staff.

‘He has a heart the size of a house and he’ll get a mile and a half now.

‘We’ll have to find him something at Royal Ascot if we can.’

Passion For Gold produced a classy display to win the Tapster Stakes at 13/2.

The Godolphin colt, now four years old, also missed the whole of last season – having finished close to St Nicholas Abbey in the Beresford Stakes and winning the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a two-year-old.

Earlier this season he was beaten comfortably by Jet Away on his comeback at Lingfield.

But on Saturday the son of Medaglia D’Oro turned the tables in emphatic fashion, making all the running under Frankie Dettori and coming in two-and-a-half lengths clear of the 4/6 favourite.

‘I still didn’t think he was 100-per-cent fit and I thought he might get tired but the way he has come on from his first run makes me think he’ll come on again,’ said the Italian jockey.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor added: ‘He had tiny ligament problems, nothing major, but he’ll improve.

‘He is entered in the Hardwicke Stakes so we’ll think about that.’

Trumpet Major coasted home in the EBF Sussex Society Magazine Maiden Stakes, justifying his 4/7 favouritism.

‘He’s a good-looking horse and he’ll come on again for this,’ said trainer Richard Hannon.

‘There are plenty of places for him to go, so we’ll see.

‘He might end up in the Richmond Stakes back here but that’s a way away.’

Harlestone Times gave trainer John Dunlop options after chasing down Nave in the Brighton Argus Handicap at 3/1.

‘Ted Durcan told me he’d get two miles so we might have some fun with him,’ said the Arundel trainer.

‘There might be a mile-and-a-half handicap at Ascot for him, and Ted said he could be an Ebor horse.’

The Dunlop and Durcan show continued in the Hampshire Chronicle Stakes as 2/1 favourite Anton Dolin led home stable companion Drumadoon.

Walter Swinburn’s Crown Choice had earlier powered away with the Hampshire Society Stakes – 15/2 – and may now head for the Wokingham at Royal Ascot.

Durcan made it three and Swinburn two through 9/2-shot Perfect Pastime in the Newsquest Stakes.