Red Baron ran out an emphatic winner of the William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh.
Denied by Robot Boy in the consolation race last year, Eric Alston’s six-year-old was soon prominent in the hands of apprentice Neil Farley with Confessional for company.
The 4-1 favourite asserted heading to the furlong pole and had a length and a half in hand of Fast Track at the line, with Confessional another two and a quarter lengths away in third and Barnet Fair fourth.
The hard-luck story was Online Alexander, who reared in the stalls as they were about to open and was always playing catch-up, eventually finishing sixth.
The winner broke the five-furlong track record and Alston told Racing UK: “I always thought he’d be very good. He’s all speed and he’s a great horse to train, he’s no bother.
“Neil said he could have won on the bridle – I don’t know about that!
“How far he can go we’ll have to see. He’ll probably be out of most handicaps, I think.
“We’ll have to see where we go. We haven’t talked about it.”
The consolation race for this year’s feature went the way of the Dandy Nicholls-trained Pearl Acclaim (14-1), who held on by a head from Meadway in the hands of Paul Quinn.
Nicholls said: “We decided to give him a chance [and drop in] because of the pace in the race and for a lad who doesn’t get many chances he gave him a hell of a ride.”
Meanwhile, Fergus Sweeney could have been forgiven for cursing his luck when Scalzo was snapped up by Sheikh Hamdan as it meant he would no longer be riding him but redemption was swift as he partnered market rival Twilight Son to victory in the 888Sport Charity Sprint at York.
Sweeney is stable jockey to Scalzo’s trainer Martyn Meade, but Paul Hanagan is the Sheikh’s No.1 rider and the unheralded but highly capable Sweeney was not sure he was on the right one in the £100,000 handicap.
Henry Candy’s Twilight Son came into the race unbeaten and was Scalzo’s chief threat on the form book, although both had hefty rises for easy wins last time out to overcome.
But even before the race things did not bode well for the 7-4 favourite as Scalzo became very worked up in the paddock and having missed the break he was always on the back foot.
Conversely, it could not have gone any better for Sweeney, who had the perfect trip throughout and beat Grandad’s World by a length and a half. “I’m not sure which one I’d have ridden, but it was taken out of my hands,” said Sweeney.
“I couldn’t separate them. Scalzo has been very impressive but you’d never know how much this lad has left. He’s a horse who could stamp his class in Group company. I think there’s better to come.”
The popular Top Notch Tonto (7-1) returned to winning ways for the first time since October 2013 when landing the Ian and Kate Hall Macmillan Ganton Stakes ahead of Gabrial.