Europe’s champion two-year-old Toormore proved he remains the consummate professional at three after getting his season off to a solid start in the Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes at Newmarket.
The Qipco 2000 Guineas dream is still alive for the Middleham Park Racing Syndicate, even if a two-length defeat of The Grey Gatsby was not quite a margin to have connections of the hot Classic favourite Kingman running for the hills.
With his close market rival Be Ready nursed back a bitterly disappointing last, Toormore (evens favourite) led for the majority of the mile event and Ryan Moore was always able to keep the small field at arm’s length.
Although trainer Richard Hannon insisted no more could have been expected from the still unbeaten colt, bookmakers Coral actually pushed his Guineas odds out to 8-1 from 5s, the odds he remains with Ladbrokes.
Hannon said: “He idled a bit and had a lot of daylight but every time Ryan gave him a kick he went on.
“He’s not a flashy horse and he was never going to come here and win by six lengths even if he could.
“He is going to give the owners a lot of pleasure, has come here and won his trial and goes to the Guineas with a very good chance.
“He had a 3lb penalty today as well. He wasn’t as impressive as Kingman (in the Greenham), but he’s not that sort of horse.”
Aside from the eclipse of Be Ready, there was plenty more good news for the Godolphin operation.
Farhh was retired to stud after winning last year’s Champion Stakes but his little brother Basem (5-2 favourite) looked one for the future after making up a fair bit of ground in the Swan At Lavenham Wood Ditton Stakes.
“I always liked him and there was nothing wrong with him last year, he was just a bit weak,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
“I’m sure he’ll improve for this race. A mile and a quarter is a good distance for him and we’ll find a conditions race for him. After his second race, we’ll know more.”
Sheikh Mohammed has yet another nice middle-distance prospect in Sudden Wonder (7-1), who edged out the promising Observational by a head in the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions 3-Y-O Trophy.
Mull Of Killough (4-1) has travelled the world but there is no place for him like home and he secured his fifth Newmarket success by defending his Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Earl Of Sefton Stakes from a closing French Navy.
Trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam said: “It’s Mully’s Motorway not the Rowley Mile!
“You’ve got to take your hat off to Adam Kirby as that was a brilliant ride.”
Jamie Spencer made a bold move two furlongs out in the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes and it paid off as Hamza (11-4) held on from Es Que Love and the 5-4 favourite Aljamaaheer.
Trainer Kevin Ryan said: “He’d had a hard race in Dubai and you are always a bit worried how much it has taken out of them but he’s game and very tough.
“He’s in the Duke of York but there’s a possibility he could go over to Ireland for the Greenlands Stakes.”
Hannon juvenile Spirit Of Xian (8-1) was described by her trainer as “more than just a maiden winner” after getting up in a tight finish for the Montaz Restaurant EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.