Third Realm bounced back to form in no uncertain terms, cruising to a six-length success in the William Hill Tapster Stakes at Goodwood.
The Roger Varian-trained Sea The Stars colt had not won in five starts since beating subsequent Derby winner Adayar in the Lingfield Derby Trial last year.
However, he showed plenty of spark in his first run as a four-year-old when third to Al Aasy at Ascot earlier this month and with the ground on the soft side of good, he made light work of his four opponents – including last year’s Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle, sent off the 8-11 favourite, having his first run since last July.
Andrea Atzeni took advantage of a modest early pace in the mile-and-a-half Listed contest and quickly drew clear on the 3-1 shot with two furlongs to race, with Something Enticing (12-1) giving vain chase.
Atzeni said: “His first run back was a nice one at Ascot. The ground probably dried up for him and the horse got a little bit tired.
“We were looking for a bit more juice in the ground, which we got today. We were confident, but we wouldn’t know with Lone Eagle turning up. He obviously had not run since July last year.
“He hasn’t won since beating Adayar in the Lingfield Derby Trial. We ran him in the Derby on fast ground and I think he is the sort of horse who wants a mile and a half on slow ground.
“It was nearly good to soft today and he would handle bottomless ground – as long as it is not fast ground.
“He quickened up today and put the race to bed quite nicely. Taking the favourite out of the race, this was a very winnable race. It was solid, but I thought on his own form he would win.
“Speaking with Roger (Varian), he said he had definitely improved since Ascot and so we were very hopeful.
“I would think the Hardwicke would be next, but it obviously depends on the ground and we will have to speak to (owner) Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum. The Hardwicke would be the obvious race.”