Auxerre justified his tall reputation and short price to run out an impressive winner of the Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.
The Charlie Appleby-trained four-year-old was the most inexperienced horse in the race with just four outings under his belt, but the Godolphin-owned gelding had the class to overcome that issue and stamp himself as a potential star performer.
James Doyle forfeited the chance to ride on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan for the start of the domestic turf season, but victory was hardly in doubt throughout the entire straight mile as he completed back-to-back victories in the Town Moor cavalry charge following his success on Addeybb in 2018.
Doyle had Auxerre quickly out of the stalls and ran the opposition into the ground with the 5-2 favourite enjoying himself in front.
Suited by the drying ground, Auxerre bounded clear in the closing stages to beat Kynren (9-2) by two and a quarter lengths with Breden (40-1) and Beringer (9-1) dead-heating for third place, three-quarters of a length away.
Doyle said: “I spoke to Charlie on his way to Meydan and he just said ‘you’re there, I’m here, you sort it out, have confidence in the horse’.
“The more I looked at the race, I thought it could get messy. I didn’t want to get sucked into either side and in the early races it appeared the middle was the place to be, so I just thought I’d do it myself.
“I had full confidence in the horse, the cheek pieces were on to keep him company and we knew he’d get the trip standing on his head – he proved that by galloping round to the mile-and-a-half start before I could pull him up.
“He was the unknown quantity in the race and I don’t think we’ll see him in handicap company again.
“He was a little fresh so he’ll improve for today. Charlie will have a plan, but the path Addeybb took last year, the race at Sandown (Group Two) could be an option. We know he handles cut in the ground so that’s no issue.
“I was proud of him today as he was lightly raced and this was the biggest field he’d faced, so to make all was good.
“We might dabble at going over further, but we’ll see what Charlie wants to do.”
Kynren’s trainer David Barron had no excuses for the runner-up.
“He’s beaten them all bar the Group horse, there’s not much he can do about that,” said the North Yorkshire handler.
“A little bit easier ground might have helped, I would have liked to have taken on the favourite on soft.
“He won’t go to Newbury (for the Spring Cup on April 13), it will come too soon. He hasn’t come in his coat yet. He’s fit but he hasn’t started to bloom yet.
“I don’t think he’ll go anywhere for six weeks. He’s a little bit ground dependent. I wouldn’t mind aiming him at the Victoria Cup, as long as the ground is in his favour.”