One-time Melbourne Cup favourite Withhold has made a triumphant return to racing to win the Marsh Cup at Newbury.
The Roger Charlton-trained stayer bled during last year’s Geelong Cup in which he was favourite and missed his chance at Flemington and has also since undergone wind surgery.
Jason Watson set out to dominate in the extended two-mile (3200m) handicap on Saturday and, after giving his mount a breather rounding the home bend, set sail for home with most of his rivals at bay.
Billy Ray emerged as the only threat and looked a danger approaching the finish, but Withhold (17-2) showed his class to pull a length and three-quarters clear.
“That was amazing,” Charlton said.
“You need to be fit to run two miles on tacky ground with a strong headwind, and it’s nine months since he ran followed by a bleeding problem.
“I am delighted for Jason, who had him lobbing along beautifully. He’s a magnificent horse.
“He’s in the Ebor which would mean seeing if he’s as capable over a mile and three-quarters, and there’s also the Goodwood Cup.
“Leave out Australia he’s got a very good profile. When he ran there (Australia) there was blood halfway through the race.
“It’s a big decision to go there again, but you’d think he’s the perfect type for it.”