One Master initiated a big-race double for William Haggas and Tom Marquand at Goodwood on Friday when making the most of a drop in class with a last-gasp victory in the Saint Clair Oak Tree Stakes.
Out of luck in two starts at Group One level this season, the six-year-old made her return to calmer waters a triumphant one in the Group Three prize.
A fourth straight defeat appeared on the cards for the daughter of Fastnet Rock, who found herself in a pocket between rivals entering the closing stages of the seven-furlong event.
But once getting clear daylight the 6-4 favourite used her potent turn of foot to reel in Valeria Messalina before going on to score by a neck under the excellent Marquand.
Haggas said: “I was petrified about running her, to be honest – the ground is plenty quick enough for her.
“There is a very good strip of ground from the seven to the three (furlong marker) which is fresh and a little bit slower, so that is why we ran.
“I told Tom to stay on the inside and not worry about it and if he got out fantastic and if he didn’t at least she wouldn’t have a hard race. Thankfully, she managed to get out in the nick of time.
“I won’t run her on fast ground again – she doesn’t deserve that. She’s been with us a long time and has basically kept her form because we’ve looked after her.
“This was a lower grade of race than she’s been running in previously and she proved today she’s a top-class filly, especially over seven furlongs. If she can get a bit of rain she’s very competitive and very genuine.”
A bid for a third win in the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp is top of One Master’s agenda, before which she could make an appearance at York’s Ebor meeting.
Haggas said: “The races for her are few and far between – there’s one seven-furlong Group One race in Europe for older horses (Prix de la Foret). So most of the time we run her over a mile in a Group One or over six furlongs in a Group One – if it’s heavy we run six and if it’s not heavy we run a mile.
“There are two Group Twos coming up, one is the Hungerford at Newbury and the other is the City of York. The City of York is on a round track and I think that suits her better, so it’s likely she’ll go there.”
Haggas and Marquand also landed Group Three honours with Pablo Escobarr in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Glorious Stakes, with the 9-2 chance getting the better of Desert Encounter by three-quarters of a length.
“He’s a dear horse and I’ve made a mess of him really,” said Haggas.
“Today is the first time for ages we’ve dropped him in and given him a chance to get organised and he showed a nice turn of foot.
“We’ve been leading with him because he lacks a turn of speed, but today, ridden better, he’s won a better race than he’s been running in.
“I owe an apology to the owner and his team, but we got it right today.”
Cepheus gained his first victory since making a winning debut at Newmarket last year with a smart staying performance in the TDN Australia Handicap.
The Brian Meehan-trained Sea The Stars colt, who contested the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on his return to action last month, found plenty when sent on by William Buick and the 6-1 chance was always doing enough in front to hold the late challenge of Moomba by half a length.
Meehan said: “We’ve always thought the world of him really. He won his maiden very nicely last year. We ran him in the 2000 Guineas first time out, which was a little bit ambitious for the horse but it was a reflection of what we thought of him throughout winter.
“William said he loved him round there. The pace was a little bit untidy, but he said he was there for him when he needed him. I thought he quickened up well and he loved the ground which I was a little bit unsure about this morning.”
While immediate plans remain fluid, Meehan hopes Cepheus could make a return to Pattern-race company over staying trips in time.
He added: “We will see what the handicapper does with him first as there are other nice handicaps to consider. I think he is very good.
“He is a Sea The Stars and stoutly bred and he is going to keep improving. Next year you could be looking at maybe an Irish St Leger and things like that. I would rather him come up the ranks like he is now.”
Prompting completed a hat-trick with a smooth victory in the Unibet Golden Mile Handicap.
A 3lb penalty failed to halt the progress of David O’Meara’s four-year-old, who capitalised on his low weight and an advantageous low draw.
Harry Bentley had the Bated Breath gelding in a good position throughout as Vale Of Kent set the pace before hitting the front a furlong out.
Prompting (3-1 favourite) soon put daylight between himself and his rivals and avoided plenty of trouble behind as he went on to win by a length and a half. Urban Icon (12-1) was second with Afaak (25-1) third.
O’Meara said: “Colm Sharkey bought him for the owner last year (cost 7,000 guineas) and he went into training with Olly Murphy, who did a great job with him.
“I think once they realised he’d be a nice Flat horse, between the owner and Olly they decided he’d be better off in a Flat yard with Flat horses to work with. I’m just lucky to have inherited him really.
“He’s a progressive horse and was given a great ride by Harry Bentley. We’ll see what the handicapper does – if he can still run in handicaps we might look at a Clipper Logistics race at York, if not, we’ll have a rethink.”
Simon and Ed Crisford’s Zamaani justified even-money favouritism in the New Unibet Instant Roulette Nursery under William Buick.
The concluding British European Breeders Fund EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes went to the Middleham Park Racing-owned Ventura Diamond (5-2), trained by Richard Fahey and ridden by champion jockey Oisin Murphy.