Carlton House returns in Sandown comeback

THE Queen’s Carlton House will be on a fact-finding mission when he returns to action in tonight’s Betfair Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.

The four-year-old – who won last year’s Dante Stakes at York – has not raced for nearly a year since finishing an unlucky third to Pour Moi in the Epsom Derby, and then a leg-wearing fourth in the Irish equivalent.

Carlton House drops back to Group Three level here and tackles 10 furlongs as connections seek to get a handle on his optimum trip – and kickstart Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

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“We’re really pleased to have him back and Sir Michael is very happy with him,” said the Queen’s racing manager, John Warren.

He added: “Last year, Ryan Moore said he had tremendous speed and he won the Dante over 10 furlongs travelling well, but there’s no reason not to keep all options open.”

Meanwhile David O’Meara, who trains near York, hopes age has not caught up with his 10-year-old stable star Blue Bajan who seeks successive victories in the Betfair Henry II Stakes.

“He won the race last year but he’s a year older now and hasn’t quite run to the same level yet,” said O’Meara who has booked in-form Silvestre de Sousa for the ride.

The one to beat is Godolphin’s Opinion Poll, a winner at the Dubai World Cup meeting. He will be ridden by the charismatic Frankie Dettori who is without a ride in the Oaks and Epsom Derby.

Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni is expecting a bold show from Opinion Poll. “I love this horse. He does everything you ask of him and he does everything right,” he said. “I think you’ll see a very good run from him. People must remember he is an old man now but he has lots of experience and that helps in these long distance races, it helps them relax.”

Former Derby-winning jockey Johnny Murtagh will take to the skies tomorrow to continue his partnership with the Royal Ascot-bound New Pearl at Pontefract.

Murtagh is booked to ride leading Oaks candidate Vow as well as Moon Pearl in Epsom’s final race at 5.25pm.

He will have a couple of hours to make the Diamond Jubilee Youngsters Conditions Stakes at Pontefract.

Trainer David Brown prepared Frederick Engels to win the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot last year in the colours of Pearl Bloodstock and after that colt was sold to Hong Kong, Brown was rewarded with further support by owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani.

One of the replacements was the grey New Pearl, who Murtagh helped record an impressive debut victory over five furlongs at the Newmarket Guineas meeting.