Tom Marquand enjoyed the perfect 21st birthday present as Petrus bounced back to winning ways in the Unibet Spring Mile at Doncaster.
Marquand, champion apprentice in 2015, has had a fruitful winter in Australia and carried his impressive form into the new season.
Riding the four-year-old for Brian Meehan, Petrus (7-1), wearing first-time cheek pieces, held off Exec Chef to win by half a length with the pair well clear.
“The race fell apart a little in front of me and I was in front earlier than expected, but when he was joined with half a furlong to run, he really pulled it out of the bag,” said Marquand.
“He’s a nice horse with a great attitude and things are coming together for him.
“I had a fantastic time in Australia, I had 20 winners out there, they were great to me. I’ve come back and had a pretty good start. I had over 100 last year so that has to be the aim again.”
Meehan said: “We thought a lot of him at two and he spent last year knocking on the door.
“His owner Giles Morland and I talked about this race way back as we knew he wouldn’t get in the Lincoln. I’m delighted he’s started the season off so well.
“We’ll look at the Spring Cup at Newbury, but that might come too quick so there’s a £50,000 handicap at Bath on Good Friday we might consider.”
Sharja Bridge looks like he will make up for lost time this season after a clear-cut win in the Unibet Doncaster Mile.
The lightly-raced five-year-old has always been highly thought of, but his win in the Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day last year was just his second win from nine starts.
He had no trouble in landing 8-13 favouritism under Andrea Atzeni, though, and Roger Varian is eyeing bigger targets with a Listed race already in the bag.
“He’s got loads of talent, always has had, but he’s been a very immature horse and we’ve had to be very patient with him,” said Varian.
“He never ran at two and at three he was always chasing a ball that was running away from him. He had a good year last year but didn’t get it right until Champions Day.
“He’s related to two very good German horses who came good later on and I think it will be the same with this guy, it’s in his blood to peak at five.
“We’ll have a look at the Sandown Mile (Group Two), we’ll put him in the Lockinge and there’s a nine-furlong race in France. You would hope he’d make up in to a Group miler of some description.”
Richard Fahey had spoken in glowing terms of Show Me Show Me before the Unibet Brocklesby Conditions Stakes and his confidence was well placed.
Always travelling well, the 11-4 favourite then had to battle to see off Strong Power.
Rider Paul Hanagan said: “He was very professional, there was a lot to take in first time out but he handled it all well.
“He travelled well and picked up, which is always nice to see, hopefully he can go on to better things. It’s early days but you’d be hopeful.”
Unfortunately Anna Fallow suffered a fatal injury in the race, but jockey Robbie Walsh escaped unhurt.
Silvestre de Sousa has made a flying start in his new role as retained rider for King Power Racing and Bangkok (evens favourite) was his third winner from just four rides in the silks in the 10-furlong maiden.
Trainer Andrew Balding said: “He’s a nice horse who we’ve always thought a lot of, but he’s been a bit babyish, that was a step in the right direction.
“He’s still in the Derby and will go for a trial, either Chester or Epsom.”