Passenger Returns At Chester

Sir Michael Stoute has Passenger in the Huxley | Emma Berry


Sir Michael Stoute's mastery of knowing when to press and when to relent with his horses has resulted in a rarefied fine-tuning of training older horses bordering on cliche. On Friday at Chester we see another budding kingpin from Freemason Lodge in Passenger (Ulysses {Ire}), who starts a potentially significant 4-year-old campaign in the G2 Ire-Incentive, It Pays To Buy Irish Huxley S. Such a live contender for the Derby just two runs after his debut in Newmarket's “Wood Ditton”, the Niarchos homebred was unable to build on his promising third in York's G2 Dante S. at Epsom before showing up once more when winning a tight race in the G3 Winter Hill S. at Windsor.

Once the Derby was done and dusted, it was probably always going to be about what this colt would be doing in 2024 and at this stage he is following an eerily similar path to his sire who came back from an identical no-show in the Blue Riband to conquer the G1 Eclipse S. and G1 Juddmonte International the following season. Alan Cooper, the longstanding racing manager for the owner-breeders, is among those keenly anticipating what Newmarket's Knight is able to conjure from his latest project.

“Sir Michael takes his horses along gently and has given Passenger plenty of time to mature and Friday is hopefully the first step on a good 4-year-old season,” he said. “It will hopefully be a good start to an exciting year. He's got some very nice entries and has wintered well and, as always, we'll take it step by step and see how Friday goes and take things from there.”

Another unexposed 4-year-old in the line-up for the 10-furlong contest is Ballydoyle's TDN Rising Star Hans Andersen (GB) (Frankel {GB}), whose Classic campaign was also truncated following a promising win in the Listed Ballylinch Stud 2000 Guineas Trial S. last April, while Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum's G1 Champion S. fifth Royal Rhyme (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) adds further intrigue. Trainer Karl Burke is looking at the racing surface before committing. “I don't want the ground to dry out too much, but he's ready to run and as long as the ground is safe, I'd be keen to let him take his chance I think,” he said.

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