Wissahickon posted a thoroughly impressive performance as he overcame a slightly troubled passage to win the Betway Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield.
A first ride of the year in Britain for Frankie Dettori, Wissahickon landed the Cambridgeshire last year and after winning on the all-weather in December, he was sent off the 8-15 favourite for this Listed heat.
Dettori was happy to sit on the heels of his fellow John Gosden inmate Court House through the early stages, with one of his main rivals, Big Country, sitting on his outside, but the market leader was clearly travelling with ease turning for home.
However, Luke Morris stood his ground on Big Country on the outer, leaving Dettori with no choice but to switch wide to get a clear run for Wissahickon.
His mount responded in style though, showing a fine change of gear to move round and take the lead before eventually being eased down to win by three-quarters of a length.
Dettori said: “He’s a lovely horse, he won very well.
“Generally they split at Lingfield, but I had so much horse under me I could go round and he won with ease.
“He was amazing in the Cambridgeshire and he’s getting better – he’s definitely out of handicaps now.”
Gosden told Sky Sports Racing: “He got in the box but managed to conjure him out of it and he did well to quicken up from that position.
“It didn’t go to plan. Luke (Morris, on Big Country) was correctly keeping him in, but full marks to the horse and jockey, they are three nice horses running in a nice programme they have put on for us.
“The Winter Derby then the Easter Classic would be the obvious plan, and he could end up racing in America come the fall.”
Dettori also won the Ladbrokes Handicap on his only other ride, the Gosden-trained Murray River (10-11 favourite).
Tom Dascombe’s speedy Kachy won the Betway Cleves Stakes for the second successive year.
Despite being drawn in stall eight, Kachy was quickest away under Richard Kingscote and was soon in front.
Kingscote kicked on the bend, gaining an advantage he would not relinquish. The 10-11 favourite went on to beat Gorgeous Noora by three and a half lengths to break the track record for the second time since having wind surgery.
Colin Gorman, Dascombe’s assistant, said: “I wouldn’t say that he is better than last year, but he is just a bit more relaxed with his racing and life in general. It was a good performance.
“I would say that we will leave him alone now until Good Friday. He definitely does better fresh, but Tom will have the final word.”