Once More For Luck kept his connections dream of an outing in the July Cup later in the season alive when making the most of a significant drop in class to run out a ready winner of the bet365 Handicap, the opening contest on the third and final day of the bet365 Craven Meeting at Newmarket today.
Last sighted finishing sixth in the Group One Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes over course and distance the Kodiac colt, who scored at 125-1 at Ffos Las season, made a triumphant return to the Rowley Mile when springing a 28-1 surprise under Benoit De La Sayette.
Kept widest of them all over on the far side the Ismail Mohammed-trained three year old produced a fine finishing kick during the closing stages of the six-furlong contest before passing the post a length and a quarter clear Yacowlef.
Jose Santos, assistant trainer, said: “He returned really well and we took a bit longer from his last run. He was well prepared and was looking very well. The boss did a good job with him. We will see what the next step is now.
“The last run was in the Middle Park. He ran a good race. It came at the end of a tough season for him as it was his seventh race in a short time. We have more plans with him this year and he is a horse that is developing really well.”
A return to Pattern race company could be on the agenda for Once More For Luck, who holds an entry in next month’s Group Two 1895 Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, ahead of a potential appearance in the Group One feature on the July Course.
Santos added: “He is in the Group Two at York. If he is still well we will decide with Ismail and his owner over the week what to do.
“If looks well, like he does at the moment, he will go for it (the Group Two at York). If he was to have success in his next start he would go for the July Cup.
“He ticks all the boxes (for the July Cup). The horse was a bit premature last year but now he is a little bit more of a proper horse. He can give a bit more and we don’t know how far he will go.”
Sir Michael Stoute appeared to unearth another potential gem in Passenger, who made a striking debut when sauntering to victory in the bet365 Wood Ditton Maiden Stakes.
Sired by the Newmarket handler’s dual Group One winner Ulysses the 11-1 chance hit the line full of running in the mile prize under Ryan Moore in the manner of a horse that suggests he will get further to score by three lengths.
Stoute said: “He has been showing promise but I thought he did it very professionally. It is great, Ulysses was a top class horse and let’s hope he can really pick up and get going now.
“We have got to sit back and think and do a couple of pieces of work and freshen him up. There are no plans at the moment.
“He had done nothing wrong but you don’t know what the opposition is. You know your horse but it is finding out time.”
While Stoute remained tight lipped on any future plans Alan Cooper, racing manager to owners Flaxman Stables Ireland Ltd, expects Passenger to improve when stepped up further in trip.
Cooper said: “He is bred to get a little bit further. The grand dam Pachattack was very good over a mile and a mile and a quarter and hopefully Ulysses can add a bit more to that.
“It is always lovely to see (when they win first time out). We thought he might need the experience but he overcame all the greenness.
“When we get home we will have a re-group and wait to see what Sir Michael wants to do next.”