Tilsit came out on top after a dramatic climax to the Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood.
A field of just five runners went to post for the Group Three contest, with Roger Varian’s hugely impressive Britannia Stakes hero Khaloosy all the rage as the 4-7 favourite.
With promising York winner My Oberon next in the betting at 3-1, Tilsit was a widely unconsidered 10-1 shot off the back of a 19-length verdict on the all-weather at Newcastle – but ultimately proved more than up to the task on his turf debut.
My Oberon led the quintet into the home straight, with Khaloosy travelling ominously in his slipstream.
However, it was the Charlie Hills-trained Tilsit who picked up best in the hands of Ryan Moore – and he looked set to sprint clear heading inside the final furlong, before hanging violently right and badly impeding My Oberon on the rail.
Moore managed to get his mount back on an even keel, and there was a length and a half between the pair at the line – with Khaloosy two and a half lengths further back in third.
The stewards inevitably called an inquiry, but the placings remained unaltered, although the officials did rule Moore was guilty of careless riding and suspended him for five days, August 14-18 inclusive.
Hills said: “It was a big difference for him today, having had two runs at Newcastle and then come to a track like this for his first run on turf, with all the undulations to cope with. He has stepped up really good and I was very impressed with him.
“You never quite know what will happen in the inquiry, but he won by far enough. He is still quite green and immature and he hit the front there and the horse just went straight to the rail.”
On future plans, the trainer added: “There is the option of coming back here for the Celebration Mile. Over the winter we kept calling him the Derby horse but that didn’t happen and Covid didn’t help that.
“I think he will get further, but if he is good at a mile we might stick at that. There are lots of nice races for him and he has only had three starts so he has got his whole future ahead of him.”
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Tilsit’s owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “It was a huge step forward really. He has still got to mature as he is still very babyish and you could see that in the paddock beforehand, but he was much better than he was the previous two times.
“In the race he has handled it pretty well, but he did wander. I wasn’t at all optimistic about keeping the race. He was the best horse, there was no doubt about that, and Ryan had his whip in his right hand, but he has just dived in.
“He has some talent, no question. Fast ground is probably the key to him and he certainly looks progressive.”
The interference rules are generating much debate at the moment, and William Haggas was left to wonder what might have been with My Oberon.
He said: “He’s an improver. We weren’t planning to make the running at all – we thought the King Power horse (Mystery Power) would lead and then he got left in the stalls.
“Tom (Marquand) rode a sensible race – I thought the horse was still green. He ran a very solid race and is getting better.
“I haven’t seen a replay of the race, but I’m going to say you couldn’t guarantee the winner was going to win. The winner came to beat him and lay all over him and knocked him over, effectively.
“It’s a bit like running round an athletics track and when someone comes to challenge you, you just push him off the track! It’s a similar scenario.
“Our horse probably wouldn’t have won, but if you’re cycling and pedalling as fast as you can possibly go, and suddenly have to stop to a complete halt, it takes the wheels going round a few times to get back to the momentum you had.
“It’s difficult for me, as I’m involved in this particular scenario, but it just doesn’t look right – you can knock one over and keep the race.
“I don’t know what we do about the rules – that’s one for better men than me. But if everyone feels that is a satisfactory outcome, then I’ve got it wrong, but I really don’t think that’s the case.
“I don’t think it was Ryan’s fault for a minute. The horse dived in and I’ve seen Ryan since and he’s mortified, but he’s a proper bloke.
“It’s not a deliberate act of riding, but the fact is he ground our horse to a halt, and he cannot be expected to gather the momentum to get back up. If he’d got beaten a head, the winner might have been thrown out. I don’t think it makes any sense myself.”