Metier made all the running to land the inaugural Sovereign Handicap Hurdle, the feature £100,000 race on the first day of the Winter Million at Lingfield.
Sean Bowen rarely had a moment’s concern aboard the Harry Fry-trained six-year-old, who relished the heavy conditions, galloping his 11 rivals into the ground.
Metier (11-4 favourite) had won the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle as a novice and has always been held in high regard by his trainer, but he had flopped on his seasonal return at Sandown.
Though fourth in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot last month, he still had a few questions to answer, but left no doubt this time, getting into a good rhythm and fending off all-comers.
In the end he had a comfortable length and a quarter to spare over Gowel Road (17-2), with Carrarea (3-1) briefly flattering between the last two flights before dropping a further five and a half lengths back in third.
Fry said: “That was the real Metier. He just loves this ground and we knew the conditions would suit him. This was the plan.
“He ran a good race at Ascot on good to soft ground.
“Sean was great there. He went his own tempo and he just loves that ground. We decided to ride him a little differently this season.
“He went a good, even gallop and kept going. I’m delighted to see him back in the winner’s enclosure. Sean said he wasn’t doing masses after the last.”
Metier had been dropped 3lb by the handicapper after his previous outing, a fact not lost on Fry.
He added: “To be fair, the handicapper gave us a serious chance and we’ll be looking for soft to heavy ground next time and might go up in trip on better ground.”
The prize money had attracted a competitive field and with two winners on the card, Fry was naturally a happy handler.
“The Winter Million is a new initiative with great prize-money. We’ve had two winners and won three times the amount we won for winning a Grade One Tolworth last season. It’s a great initiative and if it’s an annual event, you can count on him being here,” added Fry.
“He is in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, but we will have to look at the ground, as he loves it like this.”