Sceptical staked his Royal Ascot claims with a stylish success in the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Woodlands Stakes at Naas.
The four-year-old started life with Godolphin but was snapped up for just £2,800 by James McAuley at the sales in August before making his debut at Dundalk in October.
He subsequently won three times on the all-weather for trainer Denis Hogan through the winter and proved equally as capable on his first turf start.
Partnered by Joey Sheridan, Sceptical travelled supremely well throughout the extended five-furlong contest, sitting alongside Buffer Zone before hitting the front with a furlong to run.
Sheridan only had to apply the minimum of pressure and Sceptical shot away to win by a eased-down three lengths. Southern Horse took second with Buffer Zone third.
Sceptical was immediately chopped in price for the feature sprints at Royal Ascot next week, with Betfair making him a 7-1 chance for the five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes and a 12-1 for the Diamond Jubilee over a furlong further.
Hogan said: “He’s a special horse and so easy to train. I’m delighted for Jim Gough and James McAuley. They picked him out.
“Jim’s gutted he’s not here as he loves his racing, but he has a good horse and he’ll probably go to Ascot next week for the King’s Stand.
“He might be entered in the Diamond Jubilee as well and other than that there is the Greenlands. They are the three options at the moment.
“He’s the best horse by far that I’ve ever had. I saw him doing a bit of work at Charlie Swan’s last Tuesday. I’ve seen a lot of horses go up that gallop and I’ve never seen a horse go up it as quick and powerful.
“He’s exciting and the kid on his back is exciting as well. He was in the deep end there today and it didn’t faze him one bit. He said it was comfortable and there was still a bit of greenness there.
“He’d never been on grass before, but I wasn’t worried as Dundalk is a quick surface and that is beautiful out there today.
“I’d say it will be the King’s Stand as he showed there that he has plenty of boot. That was a big step up in grade as he beat handicappers well the last day, but he beat Pattern horses well today.”