Brentford Hope will be aimed at the Lincoln in the spring after justifying the faith of trainer Richard Hughes with an emphatic victory at Haydock.
The son of Camelot was considered a potential Derby contender by connections after making a brilliant start to his career at Newmarket 12 months ago.
However, an injury earlier in the year put him on the back foot and he was then a beaten favourite on his first three starts of the current campaign at York, Kempton – after which he was gelded – and Leicester, over trips ranging from an extended mile and a quarter to a mile and a half.
Hughes decided to drop his stable star to a mile for his latest assignment and it was a move that worked the oracle, with Brentford Hope winning hard-held by three-quarters of a length under an ultra-confident Jamie Spencer.
“It’s been a very funny year for the horse,” said Hughes.
“He won his mile-and-a-quarter maiden on very soft ground, so naturally you think he’s a mile-and-a-half horse. He’s bred to stay a mile and a half or even two miles, for that matter.
“He broke a rib in the spring, which meant he missed a run in a Derby trial – and maybe that was for luck, because if you run a horse in the Derby and they don’t stay, it drags the life out of them.
“He ended up going to York on good ground over a mile and a quarter and came there on the bridle. He ended up finishing fifth, and I gave the horse the benefit of the doubt and said he needed the run.
“At Kempton next time (Jamie) Spencer was looking behind him because he knew he had the horses in front of him beat. He didn’t finish, but he didn’t stop either, so I actually went to Leicester thinking ‘I don’t think this horse stays, but we’ll know for sure after this’.
“It was a mile and a half in heavy ground and it was the same story again. He arrived there on the bridle – and while he hung on to their coat tails at the finish, I think that’s just because he’s so talented.
“After that I said we’d go back to a mile, because I don’t have a horse that can lead him at home – then he goes to Haydock and he’d have won over seven furlongs.
“It was a huge relief to see him do that, because that’s what I see at home, and I’m delighted for his owner Sean Mulryan and his racing manager Paddy Aspell, who have been patient with him all year.”
Brentford Hope will now enjoy a winter break before being prepared for the first major race of the 2021 Flat season at Doncaster.
Hughes added: “He came out of the Haydock race great. He’s going to go home now for a rest, and then he’ll be heading for the Lincoln.
“He went up 9lb for winning by under a length at Haydock, so he’s rated 100 now.
“I’m just pleased it worked out for him in the end this year – I’m glad I believed in him.”