Mostahdaf made it three wins in as many starts with a narrow victory in a classy renewal of the Casumo Best Odds Guaranteed Heron Stakes at Sandown.
The Listed heat drew seven contenders, including last year’s Coventry Stakes hero Nando Parrado, along with 11-8 favourite Highland Avenue and Bullace, who were both seeking a fourth successive victory.
Nando Parrado set out to make all in the mile heat, with Jim Crowley and William Buick content to sit out the back aboard Mostahdaf and Highland Avenue respectively until the race began in earnest in the straight.
While Buick took Highland Avenue up the inside rail, Mostahdaf (9-2) made his challenge on the outside and Bullace raced between the two, with the trio fighting out a thrilling finish in the final furlong.
Mostahdaf, who was getting 3lb from Highland Avenue, proved half a length too good at the line for trainers John and Thady Gosden, with Bullace a tenacious third, beaten a further half a length.
Paddy Power cut Mostahdaf, who is a half-brother to dual Group One winner Nazeef, to 5-1 for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, while making him a 12-1 shot for the Eclipse back at Sandown in July.
John Gosden said: “I don’t think the ground was to his liking as it was testing out there. He has shown a lot of courage as he has come from last and got in a battle.
“He will have learnt a lot from that as it is the first time he has ever raced on turf. We will see how is in the next couple of weeks and go from there.
“I think it was a gutsy performance from a horse so inexperienced. As Jim said, he had nothing to race with out there and he was slightly looking around.
“It was a great run and we will see whether we stick to a mile, which I think we will for the moment, and we will see where we go from there. He has got some class.
“The St James’s Palace Stakes is not necessarily punching too high as he has got a lot of class. It is nobody’s fault, but he would just like to run on something called good ground.”
Beautiful Sunshine (4-7 favourite) had earlier booked her ticket for Royal Ascot with a comfortable victory in the Casumo Bet 10 Get 10 EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes.
The Ardad filly came home four lengths clear in the hands of Rossa Ryan, with trainer George Boughey setting his sights on next month’s showpiece in Berkshire.
He said: “She is a lovely filly that is improving with each run. It is hard to win that impressively under a penalty, so it was a good effort really.
“We could have gone straight to Ascot with her, but by doing this we have got to know more about her. At the moment I don’t think she needs that soft ground, she just handles it.
“She looks like she is getting faster and I would say at the moment she will probably go for the Queen Mary, but we will see how she trains into it.”
Ryan also struck gold aboard Ralph Beckett’s Zinc White (11-10 favourite) in the Casumo Horse Racing & Sports Betting Handicap.