David Lanigan celebrated his first turf winner of the year in style as Worth Waiting claimed the biggest success of her career in the Charm Spirit Dahlia Stakes.
After coming up short at the top level on her final start last year, the daughter of Bated Breath showed at Newmarket on Sunday she has taken a step forward over the winter, with a ready victory in the Group Two contest.
Racing front rank under James Doyle throughout the one-mile one-furlong contest, just outside the three pole the 3-1 shot moved into a lead she would not surrender on the way to a length win from Nyaleti.
Lanigan said: “She has trained well up to (this race) and she is a stronger filly this year.
“Ted Durcan rides her in a lot of her work. Even last year, before we went to the Aphrodite we weren’t 100 per cent sure she would stay the mile and a half completely.
“I think she is so laid-back she helped herself last year. When we went to Deauville they crawled, then sprinted – then when we ran in the Group One at Chantilly, she blew like a filly that didn’t stay a mile and a half, and I knew she was 100 per cent fit.
“When Ted got off her a week ago on the watered gallop, it was the first time in 11 years he has been riding for me that he got off one and was really happy with her – so I thought we are in the right spot. ”
Injury at the end of her previous campaign meant Worth Waiting has proved well-named in her preparation for this summer.
“She had a chip taken out of a hind fetlock at the end of the season, and it took her a little bit of time to come right,” added Lanigan.
“From her first run of the year, with natural progression, you would expect her to improve for the run.
“The main thing is to try pick up a Group One. I think we will leave her at a mile and a quarter for the moment.”
That Group One victory may be secured abroad, with Lanigan earmarking races in America and Ireland for his stable star.
He said: “I thought if we went and won today, we would go for the Pretty Polly (at the Curragh).
“Long term, at the end of last year we thought the perfect fit for her would be the Beverly D. Stakes (at Arlington Park).”
The runner-up is likely to be stepping up in trip in the future.
Charlie Johnston, assistant trainer to his father Mark, said: “She ran very well. She just didn’t handle the dip and lost a length there and Joe (Fanning) felt she would have won as she was coming back to the winner towards the line.
“It is a bit disappointing as she was cherry-ripe today and we expected her to go close.
“I think we will be looking at mile-and-a-quarter options for her. She is already a Group Two winner abroad so we will either look at trying to win a Group Two at home or a Group One abroad.”