Hamada got the better of Crowned Eagle in a thrilling climax to the Sky Bet First Race Special Jorvik Handicap at York.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Hamada was the 5-2 favourite for the first race of this year’s Dante Festival, having made a successful return from an 18-month absence at Wolverhampton less than three weeks ago.
Crowned Eagle cut out much of the running and although he looked booked for minor honours when joined by Hamada entering the final furlong, the latter knuckled down admirably to set up a grandstand finish.
There was little to choose between the pair as the line approached, but it was Hamada who poked his head in front where it mattered in the hands of William Buick.
Buick: “I’m delighted in my fellow. He’s grown up all the time. He’s going the right way.
“I thought I had finished my race when I went past the eventual second horse, but he came back to me and it was a good fight to the line.
“He stays well and he’s got that bit of a kick as well.
“We think he’s quite a nice horse in the making. He looked quite promising when he won his maiden as a two-year-old. Charlie (Appleby) has taken his time with him. Hopefully this is only the beginning.”
Appleby told Press Association Sport: “I’m pleased with that. He had a good racing weight, which was helpful.
“Obviously he’ll go up for winning but it will be Royal Ascot next for him. The Duke of Edinburgh looks the obvious race but we have a few for that already so it will be a case of splitting them all up.
“We’ll see what the handicapper does and make a decision.
“That was good racing ground, so he can handle that, and we were confident that he’d taken a good step forward from his first run for two years.”
George Bowen was a dominant winner of the Infinity Tyres Handicap for trainer Richard Fahey and jockey Connor Beasley.
The 10-1 shot was nearer last than first during the early throes of the six-furlong contest, but made rapid headway from the halfway stage and quickened up to lead with over a furlong still to race.
While his rivals jostled for minor money, George Bowen pulled further and further clear and passed the post with six lengths in hand over Foolaad.
Fahey said: “He was a sprinter out of form. He ran OK at Doncaster, but to go and win like that was a bit of a shock.
“Let’s hope the handicapper doesn’t take it literally or it will be another two years before he wins again.
“He won a 100 grand handicap in Ireland. The handicapper there didn’t miss him and they struggle. He paid the penalty and they lose their confidence.
“He’s guaranteed to get in all the big races now, at least, the amount he’ll go up in the weights.”
Clubbable (11-1) outpointed stablemate Zap to give Fahey a one-two in the Conundrum HR Consulting Handicap.
Tony Hamilton looked to have timed his challenge to perfection aboard Zap as he came from a long way back nearest the stands’ rail. But Clubbable dug deep on the far side of the track for Paul Hanagan to win the argument by a head.
Fahey said: “I’m delighted. She was busy last year and she was only small but she’s done well over the winter.
“She (Clubbable) is tough and genuine and could be a filly for the Sandringham if she can prove she stays.”
Even better was to come for Fahey and Hanagan as Charming Kid (11-2) brought up a treble for the Malton handler with a fine debut success in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.
Fahey said: “He’s naturally very speedy and it’s been a good day at the office.”
The trainer added: “He could be an Ascot horse, the Norfolk looks his race. He’d shown a bit at home.”
Reverend Jacobs (4-1) looked the part in the Oaks Farm Stables Handicap with a neck defeat of Zeelander.
William Haggas said: “He got sweaty in the pre-parade so I rang the owner to tell him not to back it! Luckily, he thinks I’m clueless.
“If he got in he would go to Ascot, but I can’t see it.”