04/25/2014 8:08PM

Tullius earns Group 1 start with Sandown victory

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Tullius won his first Group 2 race, and fourth career stakes, in Friday’s $159,600 bet365 Mile at Sandown Park in England, a victory expected to lead to a Group 1 start later this spring.

Ridden by Jimmy Fortune for trainer Andrew Balding, Tullius (9-2) closed from fourth in a field of six to take the lead with a furlong remaining. He pulled clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths over 3-1 Montiridge. Garswood, the 5-2 favorite, finished fifth, failing to threaten the leaders in the last half-mile.

Tullius, a 6-year-old gelding by Le Vie Dei Colori, races for Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds VI. He will be considered for the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, England, on May 17 or the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 17, Balding said after the bet365 Mile.

** In the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes, also at Sandown, Noble Mission, a 5-year-old full-brother to the retired undefeated champion Frankel, won his fourth stakes in the race over 1 1/4 miles. Ridden by James Doyle for trainer James Doyle, Noble Mission (4-1) led throughout and finished nine lengths in front of Telescope, who had not raced since winning the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last August.

Sky Hunter, third in the 2013 French Derby, could only finish fourth as the 6-5 favorite.