Waldkonig confirmed himself as a top-class prospect for the season ahead as handled the step up in class to win the bet365 Gordon Richard Stakes at Sandown for John and Thady Gosden.
A half-brother to 2019 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Waldgeist, the Kingman colt was sent off odds-on to be stablemate Mishriff this time last year – with subsequent events proving he was up against one of the best horses in the world.
Having won a handicap at Pontefract off a mark off 101 on his seasonal return, he was the 6-4 favourite to beat a field who all had solid Group-race form to their name.
Settled in second by Frankie Dettori as Extra Elusive set the pace, Waldgeist hit the front well over a furlong out.
The only runner to make any significant ground from the rear was the veteran Desert Encounter, but he never looked like catching the winner and went down by a length and a quarter.
Extra Elusive stuck on for third, but Thunderous and Highest Ground, first and second in last year’s Dante, both disappointed.
Gosden said: “We had some very bad trouble with a deeply-infected tooth with this horse which required two operations to get it out, as it was so deep.
“He was very ill, but has come back well to win on fast ground at Pontefract and on well-watered ground today.”
He went on: “He’s come through everything and is a relatively fresh horse and when you look back at his form, such as his third behind Mishriff at Newmarket, it is pretty hard to knock.”
Betfair gave the winner an 8-1 quote for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, but a return to Sandown could be on the agenda.
Looking to future plans, Gosden said: “The options will be over a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half, including the big one here in July (Eclipse).
“Frankie said he thinks he’ll get further, while his breeder told me right from the start he would be a better horse at four or five.”