James Tate has yet to saddle a Group One winner but Invincible Army could be the horse to change all that judged on his winning return to action in the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.
Having provided the Newmarket handler with his first Pattern-race winner in the Sirenia Stakes at Kempton on his penultimate start last season, the son of Invincible Spirit struck for the second time at Group Three level in the six-furlong prize.
Never far from the early pace set by Abel Handy, the 11-8 favourite quickened away smartly under Ryan Moore to cross the line a length and a half clear of Eqtidaar, with Enjazaat a further length and three-quarters back in third.
Following the race the winner was cut to 8-1 for the Commonwealth Cup by both Coral and Betwaym and 10-1 by RaceBets.
Tate said: “I’m chuffed to bits with that. We knew he had trained on, it’s just a question of how far we can go, I guess.
“He won it without any backhanders. It was first time up and we’ve not revved him too much, so we are delighted.
“I don’t see him as a soft ground horse. I see him as a good horse that wants good ground.
“The Sandy Lane (Haydock) and the Commonwealth Cup (Royal Ascot) are definitely the plan. There is half a chance after Royal Ascot he could try five (furlongs) one day, as I think he is pretty fast.”
He added: “Ryan loved him and thought he was a really nice horse. He said the ground was as soft as he would want it and that he is definitely a proper Group horse.”
Connections of the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned second and third were delighted with their comeback runs, on ground that was plenty soft enough.
Racing manager Angus Gold said: “I thought they ran really well. Obviously Sir Michael Stoute’s horse (Eqtidaar) disappointed at Kempton last time and funnily enough three or four days later scoped dirty.
“Dane (O’Neill) said he definitely wants better ground but was thrilled with him.
“Owen’s horse, Jim (Crowley) said from that draw (eight) he was further back than what he wanted, but again Owen was worried about the ground, as he wants it faster, and in the ground he made up a lot of ground.”