05/07/2010 12:00AM

Harbinger a solid winner in Ormonde Stakes


Harbinger continues to give promise of great expectations. On Friday, he displayed his stoutheartedness with a 1 1/2-length victory in the 1 5/8-mile, 89-yard Ormonde Stakes, a Chester Group 3 contest worth $111,000. Handily placed in fourth by Ryan Moore, Harbinger, a son of Dansili trained by Michael Stoute, led at the quarter pole and ran on strongly as the 8-13 favorite to defeat the Aidan O'Brien-trained Age of Aquarius. The winning time on good to soft ground was 2:56.73.

Harbinger's victory, his third at the Group 3 level in seven career starts, came just 20 days after his three-length score in the 1 1/2-mile John Porter Stakes at Newbury. Stoute will take it one step at a time, moving him up to the Group 2 level while dropping him back down in distance next time on June 19 for the 1 1/2-mile Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Age of Aquarius stayed on well considering that this was his first start since finishing second to Cavalryman in the Grand Prix de Paris on July 14. A 4-year-old son of Galileo and a half-brother to Group 1 mile winner Turtle Bowl and to Group 2 mile winner Turtle Bow, Age of Aquarius has the Hardwicke, the Tattersalls Gold Cup, and the Coronation Cup from which to choose.

* Azmeel was the unconvincing winner of the Chester's Epsom Derby prep on Friday. Trained by John Gosden, the Azamour colt was the half-length winner of the $104,000, Group 3 Dee Stakes at 1 1/4-miles, 75 yards, which he covered in 2:14.75. Second to Chabal in the Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial two weeks ago, Azmeel left the bookies cold as they offer him at a general 33-1 for the Epsom Derby, for which 2000 Guineas sixth St Nicholas Abbey remains the 4-1 favorite.