First Eleven was installed as the early favourite for the Ebor in August after a gritty victory in the Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Jorvik Handicap at York.
Unlucky at Royal Ascot last season, First Eleven was sent off at 5-1 for a race in which the winner was guaranteed a place in the first ever £1 million Ebor.
His success saw Sky Bet make him their 10-1 market leader(from 14s) and while John Gosden indicated it was a likely target, a return to Ascot is also on the cards.
First Eleven beat Fujaira Prince by a neck in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
“It would be lovely if we could have him right for the Ebor, but I don’t know about the next two furlongs,” said Gosden.
“I asked Frankie and he said ‘if you like’, which didn’t really inspire me with confidence.
“That was good today, he kept fighting. He was headed, but he came back and I see no reason not to run him once at Royal Ascot and then target the Ebor as they need to be 105 to get in – you can’t get in off the high 90s anymore.
“When they put on money like the Ebor, you should turn up and make a race of it.”
Owner Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe added: “The Ebor has to be the target, but his dam did win a French Guineas, so another two furlongs is not absolutely guaranteed.
“He found plenty there and was very courageous.”
Andrea Atzeni, the rider of the second, was suspended for two days for using his whip in the incorrect place.
The Keith Dalgleish-trained Soldier’s Minute turned the Infinity Tyres Handicap into a procession.
Sent off at 20-1 under Joe Fanning, the race was over as a contest with half a furlong to run when the four-year-old burst clear of the pack.
Wentworth Falls gave chase, but he was three lengths down crossing the line.
Fanning said: “He travelled well and when I asked him to pick up, he picked up well.
“It didn’t matter where I was drawn with him, it was very straightforward.
“He looked good a couple of runs back, but disappointed last time when things went against him as he was drawn out wide.”
Charlie Appleby has always thought highly of Space Blues after he won on his only run at two, but the chestnut had disappointed twice already this season.
Nevertheless, he was still sent off the 5-2 favourite for the Conundrum Rowing For Christian Hobbs Gym Handicap and he defied top weight in fine style under James Doyle.
Doyle said: “I thought I was in trouble as I couldn’t see too many gaps appearing, I covered every part of the track I think.
“Once he found a bit of space, he quickened up well. He’s quite speedy, maybe I got it wrong with him after I won on him on his debut over a mile and half a furlong on deep ground, I thought he’d stay a bit further.
“Dropping back to seven has definitely suited him today.”
Jeremy Noseda looks to have a Royal Ascot juvenile on his hands in Bomb Proof (7-1), who provided Dettori with a double in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes.
Dettori said: “I asked Jeremy if he was bomb proof, and he said ‘yes’.
“He didn’t actually give me a great feel going to post, he was scratchy, but he was very professional in the race, he knew what to do and he won well.
“York maidens are not easy to win, but it was a case of just pushing the button. I think the Windsor Castle might be his race, stick to five furlongs.”
Jedd O’Keeffe’s Starcaster sprinted clear to win the closing Lindum Construction Group Handicap under Jamie Spencer to justify 7-2 favouritism.