The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot emerged as a potential long-term target for Dark Vision after Mark Johnston’s colt continued his resurgent season with victory in the Sky Bet Pomfret Stakes at Pontefract.
The Dream Ahead colt looked a potential superstar in the making after landing the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood two seasons ago, but the wheels fell off during a largely disappointing campaign in 2019.
However, after making a more encouraging return with a narrow defeat to Sir Busker at Newcastle, Dark Vision claimed Royal Ascot glory in the Royal Hunt Cup and came mighty close to following up in the Coral Challenge at Sandown, going down by a short head to Montatham.
Switching from handicap company to a five-runner Listed contest in West Yorkshire, Dark Vision was the 4-5 favourite under James Doyle – and while odds-on backers were made to sweat, the four-year-old did enough to claim victory by a neck from Alan King’s Beringer.
Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “He’s just a better horse this year – we sort of knew that from his work earlier in the year.
“There was always a danger the race today wouldn’t suit him as in his last couple of races he’s come from further back in strongly-run races. With just five runners it wasn’t going to be straightforward, but he just got the job done, which is all that matters.”
Dark Vision looks set for a step up to Group Three company on his next start, before a possible tilt at Group One glory on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot in October.
Johnston added: “We had half an eye on running him in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next week, just in case some of the big names didn’t turn up, but we were tracking the entries and saw they were all there, so we decided we’d go and win a little race at Pontefract instead!
“I think we’ll probably go for either the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury (August 9) or the Strensall at York (August 22) next. If we decided we wanted to go in at the deep end afterwards, we could look at the QEII at the back end of the season.
“We know he likes Ascot and he handles soft ground very well, so that could be something to think about later in the year.”