Red Verdon looked a class apart from his rivals when returning to winning ways in the Betway Grand Cup Stakes at Doncaster.
Ed Dunlop’s globetrotter was last seen finishing fourth of four on the all-weather, but has been a smart performer in his day and had too many guns for his Listed rivals.
David Allan waited as long as he could before putting the race to bed and streaked a length and three-quarters clear of favourite King’s Advice.
Robin Trevor Jones, Dunlop’s travelling head man, said of the 11-4 winner: “Dave won a lovely race on him at York last year too and I couldn’t believe the handicapper dropped him to 109.
“His run in Caulfield was good, he got absolutely murdered and wasn’t beaten far. He loved bullying them today, they weren’t good enough for him.
“He’s a 114/115 horse on his day. We’d have to consider the Ebor. We went for it last year, but he didn’t run a race.
“I doubt we’ll get the chance to go back to Australia. He’s gone out twice for the Melbourne Cup and not run in either.”
Lahore relished the drop down to the minimum trip in the Betway Handicap at and looks set for another profitable season for Phil Makin.
Surprisingly since winning on his debut over five furlongs for Clive Cox, this was his first run back down at that distance and he seemed to enjoy it, beating the favourite Jabbarockie by a length and a half under Rowan Scott.
“He was grand last year and to be fair we thought we had him in better nick,” said Makin of the 10-1 winner.
“All the big handicaps look open to him now.”
He added: “Paul Mulrennan rode him mostly last year and he always said to drop him back to five because he loves coming off a fast pace yet that’s his first run at five since his debut.”
Mark Johnston unleashed another nice juvenile as Dubai Fountain (4-7 favourite) defied greenness to win the Betway British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.
Main market rival She Do appeared to be travelling the better on more than occasion but Franny Norton’s mount pulled out plenty for pressure to win going away by a length.
“I always enjoy it when a jockey sits upsides one of ours looking clever because when push comes to shove I know who’ll find and I’m not sure you will,” said assistant trainer Charlie Johnston.
“For all the other one looked to be going better at halfway you could see her huge big ears going back and forwards. She was very green.
“We know she will want a mile this year and a mile and a half next year, but we had what was effectively a match race an hour down the road so it was the perfect introduction.
“I wouldn’t be in a rush to go into Pattern company just yet so we’ll look to win one with a penalty.”
There was also on odds-on shot in the opening Betway British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes, but Karl Burke’s Significantly could not repel Kevin Ryan’s Uncle Jumbo (18-1)
Jockey Kevin Stott said: “I don’t know why he was such a big price as he’s been working very well at home.”
Ben Curtis has made a flying start to the season and was on the mark with the well-bred Au Clair De Lune (5-1) in the Betway Novice Stakes.
A big price when fifth on her debut over 10 furlongs, George Scott’s daughter of Sea The Stars and the versatile Missunited relished the step up in trip and powered away to win by four lengths.
“She’s bred to be a star and her mother was hardy as anything so it’s nice to see her go out and do that against two nice horses,” said Curtis.
“I was full of running approaching the two marker and she quickened up well, but then she just had a look around close home.”