One Master made the most of a drop down in class when getting up almost on the line to strike gold in the Saint Clair Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood.
Out of luck in two starts at Group One level this season, the William Haggas-trained six-year-old made her return to calmer waters a triumphant one in the Group Three prize.
A fourth straight defeat appeared on the cards for the daughter of Fastnet Rock, who found herself in a pocket between rivals entering the closing stages of the seven-furlong event.
But once getting clear daylight the 6-4 favourite used her potent turn of foot to reel in Valeria Messalina before going on to score by a neck in the hands of Tom Marquand.
Haggas said: “I was petrified about running her, to be honest – the ground is plenty quick enough for her.
“There is a very good strip of ground from the seven to the three (furlong marker) which is fresh and a little bit slower, so that is why we ran.
“I told Tom to stay on the inside and not worry about it and if he got out fantastic and if he didn’t at least she wouldn’t have a hard race. Thankfully, she managed to get out in the nick of time.
“I won’t run her on fast ground again – she doesn’t deserve that. She’s been with us a long time and has basically kept her form because we’ve looked after her.
“This was a lower grade of race than she’s been running in previously and she proved today she’s a top-class filly, especially over seven furlongs. If she can get a bit of rain she’s very competitive and very genuine.”
A bid for a third win in the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp is top of One Master’s agenda, before which she could make an appearance at York’s Ebor meeting.
Haggas said: The races for her are few and far between – there’s one seven-furlong Group One race in Europe for older horses (Prix de la Foret). So most of the time we run her over a mile in a Group One or over six furlongs in a Group One – if it’s heavy we run six and if it’s not heavy we run a mile.
“There are two Group Twos coming up, one is the Hungerford at Newbury and the other is the City of York. The City of York is on a round track and I think that suits her better, so it’s likely she’ll go there.”
Cepheus gained his first victory since making a winning debut at Newmarket last year with a smart staying performance in the TDN Australia Handicap.
The Brian Meehan-trained Sea The Stars colt, who contested the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on his return to action last month, found plenty when sent on by William Buick and the 6-1 chance was always doing enough in front to hold the late challenge of Moomba by half a length.
Meehan said: “We’ve always thought the world of him really. He won his maiden very nicely last year. We ran him in the 2000 Guineas first time out, which was a little bit ambitious for the horse but it was a reflection of what we thought of him throughout winter.
“William said he loved him round there. The pace was a little bit untidy, but he said he was there for him when he needed him. I thought he quickened up well and he loved the ground which I was a little bit unsure about this morning.”
While immediate plans remain fluid, Meehan hopes Cepheus could make a return to Pattern-race company over staying trips in time.
He added: “We will see what the handicapper does with him first as there are other nice handicaps to consider. I think he is very good.
“He is a Sea The Stars and stoutly bred and he is going to keep improving. Next year you could be looking at maybe an Irish St Leger and things like that. I would rather him come up the ranks like he is now.”