Ryan Moore produced a sterling ride aboard Continuous as he came from last to first to register an emphatic victory in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes at York.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the son of Heart’s Cry dead-heated for third in the Dante at the track earlier in the season and was putting his St Leger credentials to the test following a fine effort in defeat behind King Of Steel at Royal Ascot.
Sent off the 4-1 second favourite, he answered every question to throw his hat in the ring for the final Classic of the season in tremendous fashion.
Ridden with real patience by Moore as 8-11 favourite Gregory went for home early under Frankie Dettori, Continuous gradually worked his way through the gears and as Gregory’s challenge began to wain inside the final two furlongs, the Ballydoyle colt was just getting started as he powered clear of runner-up Castle Way for an authoritative three-and-three-quarter-length success.
The winner was cut to 4-1 joint favourite from 12s by Betfair for the St Leger on September 16, with the firm also easing Gregory out to 5-1 for Doncaster after John and Thady Gosden’s charge stayed on for third.
O’Brien said: “He’s a lovely horse who is progressing, he has enough class for a mile and a half and could stay further. He’s an exciting horse really.
“He handles an ease in the ground well as he has a bit of a round action, but that was fast ground there today – Ryan said it was quicker than it was at Royal Ascot – and he didn’t seem to have any problem with it.
“He came here in the Dante and needed the run very badly and ran a massive race. I said to Ryan before the race today ‘would any of those other horses have ran as well in the Dante as he did?’ and he said they wouldn’t. A little bit of class usually outs, especially if the pace is even.
“I asked Ryan about that (the St Leger trip). He said he doesn’t need a mile and six, but he said you wouldn’t rule it out.”
Charlie Appleby does not view Castle Way as a St Leger candidate following his run, with an American target on the horizon now.
He said: “I’m pleased. The fractions looked very quick and William (Buick) said he was close enough but fair play to the winner, he was the fastest horse in the race.
“The main thing to take out of it is that William did say the mile and six in the Leger will probably stretch him, so where do we go next?
“I think I’ll most definitely put him on the radar for Belmont (Jockey Club Derby) where the quick ground will suit him.
“That will most likely be our next stop. He’s got a great attitude, he tries but he was beaten by a better horse today.”
John Gosden was pleased with the performance of Gregory in third, and feels the extra distance in the St Leger will be in his favour.
“We felt we couldn’t go from Royal Ascot to the Leger so we had to come here, even with a 3lb penalty,” he said.
“They went a strong pace and there were two others forcing it, but what I loved about it was that a furlong out he got going again.
“To me he’s run the perfect trial for the Leger. I did say to the owners before the race that I’d asked the course executive if they could move the stalls back to the start of the Ebor, but they wouldn’t!
“I couldn’t be more pleased as a Leger prep and you can see by the size of him he’s all about next year, one more run in the Leger and then Cup races next year.”