Expert Eye saw off admirable veteran Gordon Lord Byron to rediscover the winning trail in the Sky Bet City of York Stakes.
The one-time Classic contender Expert Eye bounced back from a disappointing run in the 2000 Guineas to win the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and was last seen chasing home Lightning Spear in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Back in distance and class for this seven-furlong Group Three, Sir Michael Stoute’s colt was the 11-10 favourite under Frankie Dettori and was always travelling strongly in midfield.
Dettori made his move approaching the final two furlongs, switching Expert Eye to the far side of the track.
He quickened up smartly to grab the lead, before Tom Hogan’s three-times Group One winner Gordon Lord Byron lunged at him late.
But try as he might, the popular 10-year-old – winner of this race in 2012 – could never quite get on terms and Expert Eye was always doing enough to hold him at bay by a length and a quarter.
Stoute said: “He’s very nice and relaxed. The stalls’ situation has been resolved. He goes in better than ever now and he’s very relaxed when he’s in there. He seems in a good frame of mind.
“We just need to eke out a little more improvement. He’s not too far off Group One (class) now.
“I’d be looking at France for the next step – the Moulin or the Foret. He’ll get a mile. I’m not worried.
“We were considering whether to go to Goodwood today or not, but then they thought they might get a lot of rain this morning.
“Then we made our decision and the forecast changed again, he doesn’t want bad ground.”
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “He’s on a learning curve still, but he’s in a much better place. He’s more comfortable in himself.
“He’s more mature, which is great, so it gives us hope for the future.”
Hogan said of Gordon Lord Byron: “He’s a tremendous horse and he might have won had Billy (Lee) not lost an iron briefly.
“We knew he would come on for his run at the Curragh. My main regret is that he isn’t in the Sprint Cup and the entries have closed for France (Prix de la Foret), too.
“Anywhere where he can get a fast pace, we’ll go. Hopefully we’ll be back here next year, too.”