Tom Marquand hopes Desert Hero 'can go further up the ladder' as royal star prepares for Sandown return

Desert Hero (right) winner of the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot
Desert Hero (right): returns at Sandown on FridayCredit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Tom Marquand is excited about being reunited with Desert Hero in Friday's bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes (2.25) at Sandown, and hopes the King and Queen's Royal Ascot winner can flourish into an elite middle-distance performer this year.

The William Haggas-trained four-year-old provided King Charles and Queen Camilla with their first winner at the royal meeting with a narrow victory in the King George V Stakes, having been bred by the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Desert Hero landed the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood afterwards and has not been seen since finishing a fine third in the St Leger at Doncaster in September. After being gelded in the winter he makes his return in the 1m2f Group 3, in which he is set to face six rivals.

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Matt RennieReporter