Dream Ahead put a dismal performance in France behind him when he returned to his brilliant best in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
The one-time Classic hope had looked the real deal when returned to six furlongs (1200m) in the July Cup at Newmarket and, with youth on his side, it seemed the three-year-old was set to become the new king of the sprint division.
But an abject display in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville was not in the script, and with no real excuse to call upon, trainer David Simcock headed to Haydock unsure what to expect from his stable star.
It was clear from an early stage that William Buick was a happy man in the saddle, with his mount travelling with the same panache he showed in the July Cup.
The 4-1 favourite moved menacingly into the lead inside the final furlong as though he would win readily, but he started to hang when pressure was applied, giving July Cup runner-up Bated Breath a shot at revenge.
Adding further excitement to the finish was the presence of Hoof It, but when the gap failed to open up for him, he lost valuable momentum.
The three flashed past the post with little between them, but the judge was able to call Dream Ahead the winner by a nose with Bated Breath a head in front of the unlucky Hoof It.
The stewards looked into possible interference between the first and third home, but decided not to change the placings.
“It’s a massive relief as after France we were scratching our heads,” Simcock said.
“It’s very special and this means as much as the July Cup, as we’re bouncing back.
“We could either go to France for the Prix de la Foret, or run at Ascot (British Champions Sprint Stakes).
“People might ask why I’d want to go back to seven furlongs (in France), but, on the other hand, why drop back to a Group Two at Ascot?
“I hope he stays in training next year and, if that’s the case, I don’t think he would go for the Breeders’ Cup this season.”
Hoof It’s jockey Graham Gibbons was in no doubt he was an unlucky loser, claiming: “I was carried across the course and it definitely cost me the race.”
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