Dakota Gold went one better than 12 months ago when producing a convincing performance to make all in the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon.
Runner-up to Gunmetal last season, the Michael Dods-trained gelding made the most of his high draw near the stands rail by dominating proceedings from the start.
Smartly away for Connor Beasley, the 5-1 favourite was soon in command and built up a healthy advantage, never looking in danger of defeat.
The son of Equiano crossed the line two and a quarter lengths to the good over Summerghand, who raced on the opposite side of the track.
Citron Major was a length and three-quarters away in third, with a further three-quarters of a length to Muscika in fourth.
“He’s not been easy. He’s bad at the stalls and he goes in last without a lead,” Dods told Sky Sports Racing.
“We’ve just got to know him this season and now we just let him get on with it and I think he’s getting quicker. He put the race to bed at halfway. I’m delighted.
“He loves the soft ground and I can’t believe he’s come back this good this season.”
Dods now has to decide whether to turn Dakota Gold out quickly in the Sky Bet And Symphony Group Handicap at York on Wednesday.
“We’ll have to see what the weights look like now and obviously there’s the Portland and the Ayr Gold Cup,” said the Darlington handler.
“I don’t think it matters, five or six, as long as there’s soft ground. He’s got the speed and I think he’s still got more improvement in him. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
“Connor said he could see him going into Listed and Group Three. On what he’s done today you’d have to say he won nicely so I think he could, given the conditions.”