Lazuli just held off the late lunge of Came From The Dark to win the Betfair Palace House Stakes at Newmarket.
Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old was conceding 3lb to the rest of the field, courtesy of a Group Three win at Newbury in September.
In that respect the performance can be upgraded and he was having his first run for 100 days having finished third behind Charlie Hills’ Equilateral in Dubai.
There was no let up in the pace throughout, with Glamorous Anna showing her predictable dash to halfway where she left Emaraaty Ana in front.
William Buick moved up ominously well on Lazuli looking likely to put the race to bed, but Emaraaty Ana refused to wilt and made him pull out all the stops.
In behind those two was Hollie Doyle on Ed Walker’s Came From The Dark – who has well and truly put to bed the notion he must have soft ground – but the door was closed.
When eventually there was sufficient room Came From The Dark flew home, but the line came just in time for the 3-1 favourite who held on by a head with the same back to Emaraaty Ana.
The winner was given a 12-1 quote for the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot by Coral.
Appleby said: “He ran a good race in Dubai to finish third behind Equilateral and he was going to run on Super Saturday, but I had to scratch him on the morning of the race because of a bruised foot.
“We maintained the training in Dubai after that little setback and he came off the plane fit and well.
“We toyed with this race, but with the penalty we weren’t completely sold on the idea and thought about going to Haydock (for the Temple Stakes).
“Once we made the entry for this, I was half confident to take them on as he loves this ground.
“He’s a real professional little sprinter.”
Buick fully expects Lazuli to be tackling bigger prizes in due course.
He said: “I don’t think this is his level – I think he’s better. He’s lightly raced and is getting the hang of it.
“He was always going to come forward from the run today and he’s an out-and-out speedball. Hopefully he’ll take a step up in grade, wherever that may come.
“I didn’t think particularly handled the track very well – he didn’t really come down the dip.
“We’ll wait and see how he acquits himself on a flat, level track and fast ground – those are his ideal conditions.
“There’s options for him. There’s the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot down the line. That might be a bit punchy, but we’ll see.
“He’s not quite the finished article yet, so I wouldn’t want to be putting a level on him.”