A’Ali bounced back to his brilliant best to make a return to winning ways and open his account for the campaign in the Coral Charge at Sandown.
Having failed to see out six furlongs on his seasonal return at Newcastle, last year’s Norfolk Stakes hero appeared to appreciate the drop back to the minimum trip for this Group Three affair.
Despite being slowly away from stall one, the Simon and Ed Crisford-trained colt showed a good turn of foot once put in clear daylight by Frankie Dettori, before getting the better of favourite Liberty Beach by a length.
Ed Crisford said of the 12-1 winner: “It was nice to see the horse come back. Six furlongs at Newcastle on the all-weather didn’t work out. He came out of the race really well. He was training well and back at five he did it really well.
“He is a triple Group Two winner, but he went to America (for the Breeders’ Cup) and had one bad run and he became forgotten quickly.
“He is a good horse and he deserves to be where he is. He is not the biggest, but he has got an engine.”
Equally delighted with the performance was Dettori, who was celebrating a fourth victory aboard A’Ali.
He said: “He has not grown much from two to three, but what he lacks in stature he makes up for in heart and guts.
“The number one draw here is the best draw on the sprint track, but you have got to get the splits. I was determined to stay on the rail. A furlong and half out I had to pull him out though and he did the rest. He got his head down like a terrier and he wants to win.
“I’m pleased he has won a Group race at three.”
A clash with recent King’s Stand Stakes winner Battaash looks to be on the cards for A’Ali, with Crisford pointing towards the King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood next for the Society Rock colt.
He added: “He will head to Goodwood now for the King George, as there are not many places to go, then we will look at the Nunthorpe.
“It was a really good race today though, as there were some proper horses in there and he was taking on the older horses. He had to be at his best today and he was.”
Gussy Mac continued his climb through the ranks with a tenacious success in the Coral Beaten By A Length Freebet Dragon Stakes.
After building on a promising debut at Newmarket with victory last time out at Wolverhampton, the Dark Angel colt took another step forward to claim top honours in the Listed prize.
Doing all his best work late on in the five-furlong contest, the 10-1 shot pulled out plenty to defeat Significantly by half a length.
Teal said: “That wasn’t bad for the biggest drifter of the day!
“It all went wrong on his debut as he fluffed is lines in the stalls, but he made up a lot of ground.
“At Wolverhampton he was as green as grass and he was still very green there today. Jack (Mitchell) said he stumbled and lost his way a bit, then when he hit the rising ground he knuckled down and stayed on nicely.
“It is great to see him fulfil the potential we thought he had.”
A step up in class and trip is likely to be on the agenda, with Teal earmarking the Group Two Richmond Stakes over six furlongs at Goodwood as the next target.
He added: “Looking at that race, I thought he needed six furlongs. Goodwood is not my lucky track, but I guess we will have to have a go at something like the Richmond now. He proved how tough he was and hopefully he will keep improving.”
Montatham got his revenge on Royal Ascot conqueror Dark Vision, winning by a hard-fought and diminishing short head in the Coral Challenge.
The grey was one that got away from owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum last month, in the midst of a brilliant Royal meeting with so many of his other runners.
This time, though, retained jockey Jim Crowley was back on board and just held on from Monatham’s Royal Hunt Cup foe – reversing the placings after William Haggas’ four-year-old had finished a length-and-a-quarter second at Ascot.
The 6-5 favourite was receiving an extra 3lb for this rematch, and it proved decisive.
There was a French-trained success in the Listed Coral Gala Stakes, with Magny Cours (5-2) obliging for Andre Fabre and William Buick in the Godolphin colours.