Regal Reality back in business at Salisbury

Sir Michael Stoute celebrated his first Group-race winner of the season as Regal Reality bounced back to his best with victory in the AJN Steelstock Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.

Without a win to his name since landing last year’s Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding (7-1) got back to winning ways on his return to a mile in the Group Three prize.

Settled in behind the early pace cut out by Marie’s Diamond and favourite Motakhayyel, the five-year-old winner – racing in a first-time visor – showed a smart turn of foot when sent on by Richard Kingscote just outside the furlong pole before crossing the line three and a half lengths clear of Beat Le Bon.

Cheveley Park’s Chris Richardson said: “He is versatile regarding the trip, but the drop back to a mile clearly worked.

“The ground is so important to him, though. If he is on his game on the day and when things go right he is hugely talented, as we saw when he ran so well in the Eclipse last year. He was always going to win today, as he was travelling so well.

“The visor helped him concentrate and that made a huge difference and that was a good call from Sir Michael Stoute.

“We have always believed in this horse and in fairness he ran a good race in soft ground at Royal Ascot, then the last two times it didn’t happen – but full marks to Sir Michael Stoute and his team for getting him back.”

Assessing future plans Richardson has not ruled out the possibility of Regal Reality – who was given a 20-1 quote for the Juddmonte International at York by Betfair – being sent on his travels, having had an intended trip to Meydan earlier in the year cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I’ve spoken to Sir Michael and he said we will have a think and just see how he comes out of it then make a plan.

“He has been on the go for a while as we were hoping to run him over nine furlongs, which is probably his ideal trip, in Meydan before Covid halted that.

“He is a horse that likes top of the ground so the ground is a major factor. We could go travelling with him if everything is OK as that is why he was gelded and kept in training.”

Victory for Regal Reality completed a memorable weekend for both Stoute and Cheveley Park Stud, with it arriving 24 hours after Group One winner Veracious made her return to action a triumphant one at Haydock.

Richardson said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend and that was our first Group winner of the season so that is a bit of a relief.

“We had an exciting time with all our National Hunt horses, but then the pressure is soon back on us on the Flat so that was a great result.”