Bred and part-owned by Michael Owen, the Tom Dascombe-trained six-year-old appears better than ever and won the Ormonde Stakes at Chester with some panache.
It was a similar story on this occasion as Richard Kingscote sat on the heels of the front-running German raider Girolamo, with the field coming over to the standside in the straight, with the exception of Andrea Atzeni and Seismos.
Kingscote stoked up the 2-1 favourite a quarter of a mile from home and, after quickly getting the better of Girolamo in hitting the front a furlong out, his mount went nicely clear of High Jinx, who stayed on to be second, but was never a serious threat three-and-a-half lengths back.
Paddy Power cut the winner to 6-1 from 10-1 for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Betfred go 5-1 from 8-1 for the two-and-a-half mile showpiece on 19 June.
Dascombe said: “He goes on any ground, trip doesn’t seem to be an issue and we are delighted with him. Our horses rarely win first time out, he only had to beat a non-stayer [at Chester]. So today was a test and, realistically, he had to come out on top if he was going to go for the Gold Cup. He’s a half-brother to some three-mile hurdlers so the trip [in the Gold Cup] shouldn’t be an issue.”
Sharestan just hung on under Kieren Fallon to claim the Cantor Fitzgerald Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.
The Group 3 feature was reduced to just three runners, with major players Hillstar and Remote taken out on account of the ground, which was officially soft, heavy in places.
In their absence, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Sharestan was sent off at odds-on and took over from reluctant leader Top Notch Tonto rounding the home turn.
Confirmed mudlark Top Notch Tonto threw down his challenge but found the petrol tank eventually running on empty and it was Sheikhzayedroad who came between horses to pose a big threat. The pair flashed past the post as one and it needed the judge to call Fallon’s mount (5-6) as the winner. Bin Suroor said: “He has improved. Last year he always carried some condition but his last three pieces of work have been much better.
“We gelded him and the key has been the ground as he loves soft ground. The Hardwicke Stakes is his target.”
Tiggy Wiggy revelled in the testing conditions to win the Cantor Fitzgerald Equities National Stakes. Victorious on her first two starts, the Richard Hannon-trained youngster (3-1) was a half-length second to the unbeaten Patience Alexander at York’s Dante meeting and gave the form a boost with the manner of her win.