Angel Bleu and Kinross provided trainer Ralph Beckett and owner Marc Chan with a Group Two double on the opening afternoon of the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
Turning out just three days after filling the runner-up spot in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot, Angel Bleu was sent off at 100-30 for the Unibet Vintage Stakes under Frankie Dettori.
The Dark Angel colt sweated up on the way to post and raced enthusiastically for much of the race, but still managed to quicken up smartly in the rain-softened ground once popped the question by his rider.
He did hang quite badly right when delivering his challenge, interfering with The Acropolis in the process.
But while the previously-unbeaten Coventry Stakes winner Berkshire Shadow (13-8 favourite) was doing his best work at the finish, Angel Bleu had enough in reserve to hold him at bay by three-quarters of a length.
Beckett said: “Frankie got off him on Saturday and said ‘he’s been busy, give him a break’, so I thought we should leave him alone.
“(But) I fed him on Sunday and I looked at him sideways and thought ‘you don’t look like you’ve had a hard race to me at all’.
“I jogged him up, and he bounced up the yard – Marc Chan’s racing manager called me up and said ‘why don’t we geld him now and send him to Hong Kong in the autumn, he can go there and have a good time?’ – he was a little surprised when it rained and we decided to declare him!
“If we hadn’t declared and the field had fallen apart like this, I’d have been really, really cross with myself. With the rain last night, I could hardly believe my luck.
“He likes a bit of juice and he likes soft ground – we’ll think about the Dewhurst now I should think.”
Dettori added: “Horses make a fool of you, but a combination of running round the turn, soft ground and being good on the way to post made a difference. He loved it.”
Of the Andrew Balding-trained Berkshire Shadow, rider Oisin Murphy said: “Off a slow pace he relaxed very well, but took a while to get going. When I gave him a kick he stayed on well and hit the line hard.
“I think he needs another furlong, because he saw out the trip really well.”
Little more than half an hour later Angel Bleu’s stablemate Kinross carried the Chan colours to victory in the Unibet Lennox Stakes.
Off the track since winning the John Of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock at the end of May, the 6-1 shot powered through in the final furlong under Rossa Ryan to deny 2-1 favourite Creative Force by a neck – with Happy Power and last year’s winner Space Blues close up in third and fourth.
Beckett said of his second big-race winner: “He shot through the gap two (furlongs) down and he sort of floated home in the last furlong.
“I was really keen that Rossa rode him absolutely cold today, and it’s panned out perfectly – as it can do sometimes.
“I was a bit worried he was getting into a row with Danny Tudhope at the top of the hill – I thought we were going to be shoved down on the fence, but it opened up and all was well.”
Kinross has realised his previous potential this season, with two Group-race wins in as many starts since being gelded in March.
Beckett added: “He’s not been a difficult for to train – he’s just been a difficult horse to read.
“I felt last year that I was always trying to get him ready, but I didn’t bother getting him ready for Kempton (last November) – I just got him there in reasonable shape when he won the Hyde Stakes.
“Taking him to Dubai (then) seemed like a good decision at the time – but that didn’t work.
“He was enjoying himself too much, enjoying his holidays – so gelding him was a good idea and sticking to this ground was a good idea.
“The form book doesn’t lie – his mother was very good on soft ground, and we’ll be sticking to good or soft from now on.
“He’ll definitely go up in grade. He’s in the (Prix) Maurice de Gheest, and the (Prix de la) Foret is a race I’ve always thought would suit him – so I think we’ll work back from that.”
Ryan voiced his gratitude to Beckett for the opportunity.
“I was pretty shocked to see myself booked to ride,” he said.
“But Ralph has shown in recent years that he’s never afraid to give lads a chance. That’s what he’s done, and I’m very thankful.”
Charlie Appleby was not too downcast over Creative Force and Space Blues.
The Godolphin trainer said: “Both horses ran well, but unfortunately as far as William’s (Buick) horse (Space Blues) is concerned it was not the strongest-run race and he said they were always picking up at a crucial point. I think we will look to the Hungerford in a couple of weeks.
“It was another solid run from Creative Force. He was going forward right to the line having travelled very well. We might contemplate bringing him back (in trip) for the Maurice de Gheest, but I’m just as keen to give him a break before heading to Haydock (for the Sprint Cup).”