Rank outsider Sherbet Lemon claimed top honours in the Novibet Oaks Trial at Lingfield.
A winner at prohibitive odds on her racecourse debut at Newcastle in February, Archie Watson’s filly was last seen finishing fourth behind the well-bred Oaks contender Noon Star in novice company at Wetherby last month.
Stepping up to Listed class, the American-bred filly was a widely unconsidered 28-1 shot in the hands of Paul Mulrennan, but raced close to the pace throughout and battled her way to the front in the home straight.
There were still plenty in with a chance of victory entering the final furlong, but it was Sherbet Lemon who saw out the near mile-and-a-half trip well to prevail by three-quarters of a length from Save A Forest, with Ocean Road best of the rest in third.
Coral reacted to the surprise result by cutting Sherbet Lemon to 25-1 from 50-1 for the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom on June 4.
The winner is owned by Apple Tree Stud, which is managed by former leading National Hunt jockey Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton.
He said: “She wasn’t far behind John Gosden’s horse (Loving Dream) at Wetherby last time. She was favourite for the race today (finished fifth) and there were extenuating circumstances for our filly, as she was stood in the stalls for 10 minutes and got shuffled back.
“We thought she’d run well today, but she’s surprised us that she’s won.”
Asked whether Epsom would be next on the agenda, Thornton added: “I think we sort of have to, don’t we?
“I’m not sure how many chances (you get) to do that type of thing – it’s a dream to have runners in those type of races.
“She’s handled all types of ground and handled the undulations today, so we may as well have a go.
“She’ll stay galloping, so you never know, she could run into a place.”
Apple Tree Stud were completing a double on the card following the earlier success of the Alan King-trained Inchicore (5-2) in the 20 Sports Welcome Offer At Novibet Handicap.
Thornton said: “That filly looks like she’s destined for black type as well, so it’s been a great day for the breeding operation.”