Accidental Agent showed he still knows where the winning post is when landing bet365 Handicap at Newmarket for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton.
The eight-year-old may have been the senior member in a field of five younger rivals, but he demonstrated that he is still well able to hold his own when striding to a two-length success under 3lb claimer Georgia Dobie.
A surprise winner of the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot as a four-year-old, the bay has not been seen since an eighth-placed effort at Doncaster in November and was a 13-2 shot for his seasonal debut.
Finding his way from the rear of the field to the front, Accidental Agent brushed aside the less experienced contenders to record a seventh career victory.
“I loved that, he goes well fresh, but looking at his coat you would think he wasn’t 100 per cent fit, but once he’s passed one horse he’s just kept finding,” said Dobie.
“He’s still a classy horse who loves the track and once he hits the rising ground, being such a big horse, it suits him as he handles the undulations so well.
“It’s been a quiet winter for me so it’s been good to get the leg up on such a good horse and I’m delighted for all the connections as well.”
Gay Johnson Houghton, Accidental Agent’s owner-breeder and mother of his trainer, added: “That was unbelievable. He looked very woolly, he took a shoe off yesterday and he spent the day at the spa, so I came here thinking ‘I don’t know’.
“He just seems so happy this year, I can’t believe it.
“He’s always been special, he missed out his five-year-old year, but other than that he’s just been a star and he’s now won over £700,000.”
Henry Candy’s Twilight Calls took the Price Promise At bet365 Handicap as the 6-5 favourite under David Probert.
Candy trained the gelding’s sire, Twilight Son, and grand-sire, Kyllachy – both of whom were winners multiple times at Group level.
“David was very happy says he’s grown up a lot. I loved his daddy and I loved his grandpa, they did me well,” said Candy.
“No way we would go up to six furlongs again, five furlongs is his trip and he’ll come back here for the Palace House.
“Fast ground is vital, he doesn’t do soft and he doesn’t do six.
“He’s always showed a lot, he’s just had a few niggly problems and been a bit immature, but I think he’s the proper article now.
“He’s done a lot of work with the horse that ran yesterday in the Abernant, Run To Freedom, and he’s quite good, David just got in a bit of a muddle with him but he knows how good this one is and he’s rode him with real confidence.”
The late Pat Smullen was remembered in the Pat Smullen Memorial Handicap, a one-mile contest that went the way of Marco Ghiani and Michael Wigham’s 9-2 chance Coase.
“We only paid 8,000 (guineas) for him and he’s thrived on his runs through the winter,” the trainer said.
“I wouldn’t normally back them up like I have, but he’s been forcing me to run him and after his run at Kempton last week you wouldn’t have thought he’d come here and win this but he’s just kept thriving for work and every time he’s run I’m looking at him and he’s telling me he can go out there and win.
“We’ve placed him well and I always thought we could win a decent handicap. He got a good ride from a good little jockey and he’s a lovely little horse.”