Not So Sleepy, without a win since dead-heating with Epatante in the 2021 Fighting Fifth Hurdle, made all the running to win the Dubai Duty Free Autumn Cup Handicap at Newbury.
Hughie Morrison’s stable stalwart is now 11 years of age and was last seen finishing fifth in the Champion Hurdle behind Constitution Hill.
Back on the Flat, he was carrying top weight in the valuable contest off a mark of 98 having been rated as high as 107 back in 2015 after winning the Dee Stakes at Chester.
Oisin Murphy adopted front-running tactics, just as another stayer from Morrison’s stable, Quickthorn, carries out to such great effect.
Ralph Beckett’s Salt Bay laid down a serious challenge inside the final furlong but Not So Sleepy was not to be denied and won by two lengths at 15-2.
“The plan was to have a nice prep for the Cesarewitch and then go for the Fighting Fifth but now he’s picked up a penalty,” said Morrison.
“We can always take on Constitution Hill again as a pacemaker or even go chasing!
“He came back at the beginning of July and has been cantering away. He just goes to the bottom of the woodchip and comes back again.
“All his work is done on his own but he did have a gallop on the all-weather when I took him with another horse to Lambourn the other day.”
Beckett’s Balance Play (3-1 joint-favourite) had disappointed on his hat-trick bid when favourite for a valuable race at the Ebor meeting but got back on the winning trail in straightforward fashion in the Dubai Duty Free Handicap for Hector Crouch.
Beckett said: “He’s a tough beggar who puts it all in but York was a disaster – I thought with his tiny feet he would handle fast ground but he never got into any kind of rhythm.
“He’s really got the hang of racing now but that fast ground at York threw him off.
“Today it all went to plan and he’s perfect for the November Handicap while he’s also in the Horses in Training Sale.”
Beckett was also on the mark in the Horris Hill School EBF Novice Stakes in which he was responsible for the first two home.
It seemed as if Laura Pearson had nicked it when New Chelsea went several lengths clear but he began to tire inside the final furlong and was reeled in by Feigning Madness and Hector Crouch.
“He’s very backward and immature and has taken a long time to come to hand,” said Beckett of the debut winner.
Pearl D’or (7-2) won the Conundrum Consulting Handicap for James Doyle and David O’Meara