Withhold could take on Stradivarius at Ascot next month after stamping his class on the Jockey Club Rose Bowl Stakes at Newmarket with a dominant front-running victory.
It is almost two years since Roger Charlton’s charge landed a monster gamble in the Cesarewitch at Headquarters, after which he went on to run out an impressive winner of last summer’s Northumberland Plate on his return from an eight-month absence.
Dreams of a Melbourne Cup bid were dashed after he suffered a broken blood vessel on his Australian debut in October – and while he made another triumphant return from a lengthy break at Newbury in June, he failed to run up to expectations in the Ebor last month.
With just four rivals taking him on, Withhold was the 10-11 favourite for this two-mile Listed assignment and was soon bowling along at the head of affairs in the hands of Jason Watson.
Hasanabad – making his first appearance for Ian Williams – briefly loomed up as a threat in the straight, but while his challenge petered out, Withhold was just getting going.
The further Charlton’s ace went the better he looked and he was six lengths clear of Austrian School at the line.
Harry Charlton, assistant to his father, said: “He is very laid back. You can get these kinds of races where you are odds on and you have to be held up and can’t hit the front too soon, but you can literally do anything with this guy.
“He doesn’t pull, does what you want, and when these horses have these kind of records – he has had one blip – but when they generally win, like he does, they are pretty easy to deal with.
“I thought they went very slowly and maybe he makes them look like they are going slowly, but he is doing quarter-speed the whole way around there, really. He also has a turn of foot for a horse that stays two and a half miles.
“If he had not had the blip in Australia, you would be inclined to be very gutsy with him in terms of taking on the best, because he stays all day and you can go quick on him.
“Australia is still in the back of our minds, but he is entered in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
“We were very tempted to go for the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp next weekend, as it is over two and a half miles and quite weak on entries, but it would be a bold step from not running that well in the Ebor last time to running in a Group One over two and a half miles, where it could be bottomless ground.
“So, when the entries came out here, we thought it was too good to miss and this is a nice confidence booster. If he is all right, we will have a pop at Ascot – and take on Stradivarius!”