Max Vega was a convincing winner of Newbury’s Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes for Rob Hornby and Ralph Beckett.
Twice a runner-up at the track, the chestnut went one better on his first start of the new campaign when leaving the stalls as a 9-2 shot for the Group Three event, better known as the John Porter.
The five-year-old had a clear lead with a furlong left to travel and then pulled away from his pursuers to prevail by a length and a quarter from Raymond Tusk.
“He really deserved today,” Beckett said of the gelding, who had not been victorious since his two-year-old campaign.
“I thought he ran a super race in the St Simon last year, he travelled really well and looked like the winner and just got outpointed by today’s favourite (Ilaraab).
“I nearly didn’t run him, you can see he’s pretty woolly and the ground is drying out and he’s always shown a marked preference for soft ground.
“I was debating whether to declare, but he had such a truncated year last year and horses are here to run – I’m glad I did run him.
“He’s a pony, we had such fun with him as a two-year-old and it’s been a long time between drinks – I’m thrilled today.”