Top Rank announced himself as an exciting miler for the forthcoming season with an eyecatching win in the Unibet Doncaster Mile.
James Tate’s grey had won five of his seven career outings before his seasonal reappearance – and as one of those was a Group Three he was conceding 5lb and more to some smart rivals.
But once PJ McDonald asked him to quicken up three furlongs out he moved through the field effortlessly, looking a class above, and he only needed to be pushed out with hands and heels to beat What’s The Story by a length at 11-2.
“He looked to be bigger and better this year, but there was also an outside chance he was just fat!” said Tate.
“Thankfully he was just bigger and better and that was great. He’d done two pieces of work on the grass and thankfully he wasn’t blowing too much after it.
“He’s a Group Three winner already so the obvious step would be a Group Two. There is one at Sandown, but that is quite a tight right-handed track and might not be for him. There’s also an option in France.
“We could just be brave and if he’s well and the ground isn’t fast we could go for the Lockinge and he might have a decent chance.”
He added: “He looks an improved horse, his work had been better so it’s exciting to see him do it on the track.”
McDonald then doubled up on Artistic Rifles (8-1) in the Unibet Spring Mile – stepping in for Andrea Atzeni who was a late absente having been informed he had to isolate after being contacted by coronavirus track and trace.
Atzeni had been in Bahrain, and a passenger on his flight subsequently tested positive.
That did not take any shine off the victory for trainer Ed Bethell, though, saddling just his second winner since taking over form his father, James.
“Days like this are what it is all about, winning nice races on a Saturday,” said Bethell.
“This horse is not easy to deal with on a morning so a lot of credit must go to his lad, Liam Reeves, who battles with him every morning on the gallops and does a wonderful job. Liam said he’d run well, so he deserves a lot of credit.
“He only ever only just wins which is great when it comes to handicapping!
“It’s a shame for Andrea, but I’ve no doubt he’ll be winning big races before too long.”
Eve Johnson Houghton won Unibet Brocklesby Conditions Stakes with her first runner in the race as Chipotle secured an impressive success.
Sent off an 8-1 shot, Charlie Bishop brought him down the centre of the track to beat Wonderful World by two and a quarter lengths.
“He’s always worked quite nicely at home, but he’s not been really well drilled as mine aren’t normally this forward,” said Johnson Houghton.
“He did that really nicely, though, so that is a relief. He’s got a nice pedigree. I’m thrilled with that.
“The only issue now is that this was a Class 4 so he’ll have a penalty in a novice.
“He’s my first runner in the race so it’s pretty exciting.”