Secret State enhanced his St Leger credentials as he made it four wins in his last four starts with victory at Goodwood.
Sent off the 11-4 favourite for the Coral Beaten-By-A-Length Free Bet Handicap over a mile and a half, the Charlie Appleby-trained three-year-old was keen early and drifted left in the closing stages, having hit the front at the cut-away.
But the Dubawi colt showed plenty of determination under William Buick to hold Maksud by a length and a quarter, backing up his King George V success from Royal Ascot in the process. Inverness stayed on well for third, a further head behind.
Paddy Power and Betfair went 8-1 from 12-1 about his chance at Doncaster, with his Classic claims set to be tested at York next month.
Appleby said: “That Royal Ascot race worked out well and physically he has done nothing but improve from the early summer to where we are today.
“I think the most logical step, going forward, will be to go to the Great Voltigeur. I know William has mooted the Leger, but it’s baby steps – from handicaps stepping up into Group company is a big thing. He’s a horse that I was very confident in coming into day, on what he achieved at Ascot and on how the horse is physically doing at the moment.
“We were, as I say, confident coming here today with a vision that this will be a springboard to the Great Voltigeur.
“There’s a long way to go (St Leger), but I think the Great Voltigeur will be a great race. The Gordon Stakes (where Appleby runs New London) will also give us an indication. Most likely, we’ll see the St Leger winner in the Great Voltigeur.
“There will be a question mark (if he stays), but the Voltigeur will be a great indicator.
“Hopefully then we can have a nice healthy discussion after.”
On the winner drifting, the Moulton Paddocks handler added: “William said he was on one rein, but the ground was good and he couldn’t see any reason behind it. He hasn’t done anything like that before but thankfully York’s left-handed, so we’re all right.”