Class came to the fore in the Betway Winter Derby as Alenquer beat Lord North at Lingfield.
Runner-up in the Juddmonte International in the summer, William Haggas’ charge was last seen running in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
In any normal year he would have been a red-hot favourite for the Group Three feature, but up against him was John and Thady Gosden’s Lord North, a previous winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes but having his first outing since winning the Dubai Duty Free almost a year ago.
Hollie Doyle tied to make all on Al Zaraqaan but Cieren Fallon was in the box seat throughout, right on the leader’s hind quarters aboard Alenquer (11-4).
As Fancy Man’s run petered out, Lord North (6-5 favourite) began to stay on takingly – but Alenquer, who has the Sheema Classic in Dubai on his radar, had plenty left after shooting clear to win by two and a half lengths.
Fallon told Sky Sports Racing: “It was pretty straightforward, he jumped well, I got a nice enough position and Hollie was setting a nice pace which I was able to just sit off.
“I wanted to get him comfortable which is important on this track with the undulations, and then when Hollie started to get a bit of a breather in I wanted to keep the pressure on as he stays a mile and a half so I didn’t want to get done for pace.
“Towards the end he picked up well. He was still a bit unorganised and tried to run around a bit, but he found his feet in the home straight and he won like a good horse.
“It shows what a good horse he is to win on this type of track, he’s obviously the best horse in the race and isn’t having much of a blow. He didn’t really handle the track and his natural ability pulled him through.
“He had a racecourse gallop two weeks ago at Southwell and we knew this run would bring him forward so we didn’t think he’d put up a performance like that.
“I think the plan is the Sheema Classic and this should have been the perfect prep.”
Assistant trainer Maureen Haggas said: “Alenquer is a pretty solid horse with pretty solid form and Lord North had been off for a long time. The only thing that concerned me was the trip on this track. He has good form over a mile and a quarter, but this is a sharp track.
“Having said that, he was quick into his stride and was able to get himself a good position. He wasn’t pretty coming down the hill and was a bit unbalanced, so for him to win like that having found the track a challenge bodes well.
“I think he may have been more ready than we thought because he wasn’t blowing much afterwards. The guy who rides Alenquer at home every day, Jason Favell, does an unbelievable job because he is not an easy ride – you would not believe how badly behaved he is at home compared to how he behaves at the races. The performance the horse has put in today is all down to Jason.
“Alenquer will head for the Dubai Sheema Classic next, all being well. He was second to Mishriff at York and deserves to have a crack at a race like that.”