Alfaatik returned from a lengthy lay-off to claim a cosy victory in the Sky Bet Handicap at York.
John Gosden’s charge was having just his fourth career start, and his first outing since finishing last in Derby trial at Goodwood last May – but he was not unfancied as a 15-2 shot.
Jim Crowley opted to take the shortest route in the 12-furlong contest, biding his time as favourite Zabeel Champion set out to make all before his stride started to shorten in the straight.
Dark Jedi hit the front with two furlongs to run, but as Crowley got serious, Alfaatik knuckled down to the task, finding plenty in the final half-furlong before eventually triumphing by a comfortable three-quarters of a length. On To Victory stayed on for third.
Assistant trainer Thady Gosden said: “It was a little bit of a surprise. He obviously won first time out, but slightly lost his way after that. Gelding him has made a big difference and he finished his race of nicely.
“We haven’t really looked beyond this as he’s a work in progress, you couldn’t take how he would run for granted and like I said, it was a slight surprise.
“We’ll see how he comes out of the race. He’s always had plenty of ability, but just hasn’t always shown it. That was a decent race today and he’s done it well.”
Alfaatik’s victory proved the springboard to an excellent afternoon for Crowley, who went on to notch a 127-1 four-timer, with the Gosden-trained Enbihaar prevailing for the rider in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.
Minzaal in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes and Battaash in the feature Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes ensured Crowley dominated the early part of the card.
However, his winning run came to end as Tawleed found Naval Crown (5-4 favourite) too good in the British Stallion Studs EBF Convivial Maiden Stakes.
Charlie Appleby’s runner came home four and a half lengths clear in the hands of William Buick, with Betfair offering odds of 66-1 about the Godolphin colt for next year’s 2000 Guineas.
Crowley teamed up with 9-4 favourite Asiaaf in the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies’ Handicap, but she failed to fire as Angel Power stormed home by three and a half lengths for Roger Varian and Silvestre de Sousa.
The winning rider said: “She’s been very consistent this year and has shown some good form.
“She’s done well to pick up in that ground. We went a nice even gallop, she went through the gears and put the race to bed.
“I ended up on the rail, but I don’t think the ground is any quicker.”
Trainer Michael Dods had to settle for second with Que Amoro in the Nunthorpe, but he was able to celebrate a winner as Brunch (15-2) finished with a flourish under Callum Rodriguez in the closing Sky Bet Mile Stakes.
Dods said: “He got beat at Haydock because he got in a pocket – he lengthens not quickens, so has to come with a run like that.
“He’s very lightly raced and I just said to Fiona (Denniff, owner), you wouldn’t know how good he is because he’s improving. He’s got a great manner and attitude.
“He’s owned by the breeders, so it’s important he goes for black type.”