04/23/2014 2:37PM

Top Notch Tonto makes 2014 debut at Sandown


Top Notch Tonto, second in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last October, makes his 2014 debut in Friday’s $159,600 bet365 Mile at Sandown Park, outside of London.

The Group 2 Bet365 Mile is likely to serve as a prep for the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, England, on May 17.

Top Notch Tonto, a 4-year-old gelding by Thousand Words, was a Group 3 winner in Britain last year for trainer Brian Ellison. In the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Top Notch Tonto finished 3 1/4 lengths behind Olympic Glory as a 14-1 outsider.

Friday’s program at Sandown Park marks the return to riding for leading British jockey Richard Hughes, who was sidelined following a fall at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on March 29, the Dubai World Cup program. Hughes suffered a fractured vertebra that did not require surgery.

In the bet365 Mile, Hughes rides Montiridge, a Group 3 winner in Britain last year. The field of seven includes Trumpet Magic, who won the 2013 bet365 Mile, and Garswood, third in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp last October.

On the same program, Noble Mission, a 5-year-old full brother to the undefeated champion Frankel, starts in the $105,000 Gordon Richards Stakes over 1 1/4 miles. Noble Mission has won three stakes and was second in the Group 3 Surprise Stakes at Newbury in his 2014 debut on April 12.

Noble Mission is part of a field of six in the Group 3 Gordon Richards which includes Telescope, unraced since winning the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes for 3-year-olds at York last August, and Sky Hunter, who was third in the 2013 French Derby.