Vintage Brut was an emphatic winner of the coral.co.uk Rockingham Stakes at York – sparking Royal Ascot hopes next summer for trainer Tim Easterby.
The winner, who stormed home by an easy four and a half lengths at 8-1 from 11-4 favourite Dave Dexter, made a mockery of his 15th place in last weekend’s Two Year Old Trophy at Redcar.
But Easterby explained an unfavourable draw left Vintage Brut with no chance from the outset then – and it was a very different story on rain-softened ground on the Knavesmire.
“The draw was hopeless last week. He came in dry, he never did a stroke,” he said of a colt who went off favourite for this year’s Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and showed here he stays six furlongs at his first attempt.
“It was lovely ground, and he (jockey David Allan) just let him roll on.
“I’m delighted for the owners (King Power Racing) – because they paid a lot of money for this horse.”
There could be much better to come too, according to the shrewd trainer.
“He could be a top-class sprinter next year – he could be going for something like the Commonwealth Cup if the ground is right,” said Easterby.
“He’ll be all right on good ground.”
The durable Aquarium was having his 20th run of the year when he struck for Mark Johnston in the opening Download The Coral App Stakes.
The three-year-old colt held on at 16-1 by diminishing a neck from My Lord And Master, with the help of the wind at his back.
Winning jockey Franny Norton was full of praise for his mount.
He said: “I could hear the commentator and that other horse coming. But there’s one thing this lad will do – he’ll help you out if you need him.
“He’s won off 100 there today. He’s been a revelation, and it’s a great training performance by the boss.
The runner-up was ridden by Cieren Fallon, teenage son of six-time champion jockey Kieren who was replacing the injured Daniel Tudhope and taking his record so far to one winner and five seconds from only six rides to date.
There was drama before the start of the Coral Nursery Handicap when Archies Lad burst through the front of the stalls.
Horse and jockey David Egan were unhurt, but withdrawn along with two others – Balance Of Power and Golden Parade in adjacent stalls, both also unscathed.
The one-mile contest went to Lola’s Theme (11-2) for Tom Dascombe, scoring by a neck from Even Keel.
Winning jockey David Probert was impressed that the filly did not allow the pre-race commotion to affect her unduly.
He said: “She got a little bit upset once it happened, but she calmed down after a second or two.
“She’s come on leaps and bounds actually.”
Her success was the first leg of a quick double for Dascombe, whose 6-5 favourite Jonah Jones was a taking half-length winner of the coral.co.uk EBFstallions.com Novice Stakes from Easterby’s Dream Of Honour.
The latter’s jockey, Allan, faces a referral to the British Horseracing Authority and can anticipate a significant ban after his fifth whip offence in the past six months.
Easterby’s uncle Mick found himself in the winner’s enclosure after his 7-2 favourite Arrowtown stayed the extended two-mile Coral Stayers Handicap best to beat Baydar by two and a half lengths and bring up the hat-trick under Nathan Evans.
Nine-year-old veteran Awake My Soul was an appropriate local winner of York’s final race of the year, the Coldstream Guards Association Cup.
The 12-1 shot struck gold by two and a half lengths for Tadcaster trainer Tom Tate.