Trainer Mark Johnston made a successful foray to Sandown on Friday to take the Listed Dragon Stakes with exciting Choisir colt The Last Lion (2c Choisir-Mala Mala, by Brief Truce).
Runner-up in the G2 Norfolk Stakes on his previous start, the speedy juvenile justified odds-on favouritism to score by two lengths at Sandown in the hands of Franny Norton.
“Coming here you worry that we’re taking a step down in grade but he’s done it well and that’s all that matters, said Johnston. “I think we had a bit in hand and it’s probably a good job we did. Franny said it’s quite testing ground out there and he committed quite early on.”
The Last Lion holds entries in the G1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes and G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes and Johnston added: “It’s one step at a time with him, we had considered going for a G3 in Deauville in tomorrow instead of this race which may have been the more sensible thing to do. But this race looked too good to miss and he’ll obviously step back up to Group company next time, but I’m not sure where.”
Choisir has been enjoying another excellent year with his juveniles, who also include the Ger Lyons-trained Psychedelic Funk (2c Choisir-Parabola, by Galileo), a dual winner who finished third in the G2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, and the Tommy Stack-trained Alexios Komnenos (2c Choisir-Alexiade, by Montjeu), who won by three lengths on his debut at the Curragh on Sunday.