Although there were only three runners for the group three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, it proved to be a competitive race with Mostahdaf in the lead.
The son of Frankel, trained by John and Thady Gosden, went from strength to strength last season, with his only loss in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Having handled this stage well up to a mile and a quarter on his seasonal return, it looks like he will continue to compete at a higher level this season.
Jim Crowley’s mount, kicked out of the 1-2 favourite, still looked for the measure of Juan Elcano and after passing him two furlongs easily held off Foxes Tale to score by two and a half lengths.
“He ran well all through last season,” said Thady Gosden. “The St James’s Palace Stakes didn’t quite go to plan but we pushed him a mile and a quarter here for the first time and he did pretty well.
“He relaxes very well, but the mile and a quarter suits him well at the moment.
A return to Sandown for the Brigadier Gerard Stakes or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot will now be on Mostahdaf’s schedule.
Gosden added: “He won over nine furlongs last year. It’s a steep mile and a quarter here and the ground is a bit dead at the moment but he stayed good and it was a pretty competitive race .
“There were three horses, but they are three solid horses and he did well.
“It can always be a bit tricky with three runners, but they made a pretty solid clip all the way and fought well when needed.
“We’re hoping he’ll take part in this race. The Prince of Wales or a Brigadier Gerard will be considered I imagine.”
The Britannia Handicap is the plan for Wanees, who came back on pace under the same jockey to clinch the bet365 Esher Cup.
The Charlie Hills-trained son of Le Havre won seven-stage novices at Ascot and Salisbury last September and managed both the one-mile move and the fitting of a hood on his handicap and seasonal debut with confidence.
Crowley’s mount (100-30) settled in nicely as he rode the pace, and while longtime leader City Runner looked to have stolen a two furlong step, the former champion jockey had covered all the movements and he got up in the last half- furrow to score by half a length.
Hills said: “They had a good, strong canter and Jamie (Spencer) probably gave his horse a good ride in front. We wanted to hold him back because he can be a bit lively at home. It’s just a big strong horse that wants to shed its weight.
“He’s bred a bit further than that now, so we wanted to ride him the right way and learn a bit more about his journey.
“It’s a great race to win and he’s a great horse with a great future, I think. a mile would suit him.”
Live In The Dream (13-2) easily won the bet365 Handicap.
Sub-5lb contender Sean Kirrane, the Prince Of Lir gelding trained by Adam West, did it all in the five furlong contest and never looked in danger as he pulled off a three-and-three-quarter success on Auditor.
Although he won on his Wolverhampton debut last August, he had gone five races without a win since then but showed plenty of defeats at Thirsk earlier this month.
“He made it so easy in his first run, he didn’t learn as much as we wanted to,” West said. “He kind of had to learn on the job, but I always thought he was better than his half-brother (Live In The Moment).
“The faster the ground the better for him. I was concerned about a five furlong raid, but if I thought that if we came here and he fell 50 yards from the line, we knew we would have a better chance at Epsom, Goodwood and York, where his main targets are this year.
“The Dash is the plan and if we can get it to come with Live In The Moment, that will be fantastic.”