Twilight Jet turned on the afterburners to fly home and secure Irish Stallion Farms EBF Abergwaun Stakes honours at Tipperary.
Michael O’Callaghan’s four-year-old has always been held in high-regard and had previously struck twice at Group Three level.
However, he has been out of luck in two starts this season as connections have strived to get the colt back to his very best and he was dropped to the minimum distance and Listed level when sent off the 15-8 favourite on Sunday.
Victory looked out of range with a furlong to run as Kieran Cotter’s Dun Na Sead blazed a trail on the front end.
But Twilight Jet found top gear when it mattered most to surge his way to a neck victory over stablemate Lokada, who also did her best work late in the day from a position at the rear of the field.
“It was great, I’m delighted to get Twilight Jet’s head back in front because he hadn’t the most straightforward path to this as he had two surgeries over the winter,” said O’Callaghan.
“He had one for colic and had to have another surgery having slipped, so it has been a long time coming back.
“Last year he blitzed them in the Lacken (Stakes) but went to Royal Ascot and was sick for quite a while. This year was about getting him back slowly, race to race.
“He’ll go for something like the World Trophy (at Newbury) or I might step him up to six (furlongs) but there are a few options for him in the UK. Leigh (Roche, jockey) couldn’t pull him up today and a stiff five or stepping back up to six will suit.”
On the runner up, he added: “Lokada had a lot of headgear on her to try to get her to relax – we have been tricking around with her and always thought she had the ability to get black type.
“They went so hard in front that Colin (Keane, Jockey) was able to get cover to help her relax and she came home well. Today was huge for her and she might be able to win one of these now.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Los Angeles (13-2) kicked the card off in style with an impressive debut performance in the Camas Park Stud Irish EBF Maiden.
The son of Camelot was an ever-lengthening two-and-a-quarter-length victor and having been handed quotes of 33-1 by Paddy Power for next year’s Derby, he is set for a rise in grade for his next start.
Ballydoyle stable representative Chris Armstrong said: “He is a lovely horse and will come on an awful lot. It was a lovely introduction to bring him here and he will be a lovely middle-distance horse for next year.
“He’ll improve a ton for the run and something like the Beresford or the Criterium de Saint-Cloud could be next, but he is a horse to look forward to next year.
“Seamus (Heffernan, jockey) gave him a lovely introduction and what he does at two will be a bonus. It’s grand to get him out now and see where he fits into the pecking order.”
Also making a taking debut was Jessica Harrington’s Sea The Boss (5-1), who pulled well clear of 15-8 favourite Quickstepping in the Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden to book her ticket to the valuable series finale later in the autumn.
Harrington said: “We have always liked her, we liked her in the spring and she grew a lot. She is a fine looker and is only a frame filly, so is next year’s model.
“We’ll see what we do and there is the final of this series at Naas (on October 15) for her.”
In an afternoon where debutants came to the fore, Caracal made the perfect stable bow for Joseph O’Brien in the Meadowview Stables Race.
The Al Shaqab Racing-owned gelding made three starts for Jean-Claude Rouget in France before switching to the Owning Hill handler and having successfully returned from over 500 days off the track, could now be set sterner tests moving forwards.
O’Brien said: “It’s great to get our first winner for Al Shaqab (Racing) – we haven’t had many runners for them and it’s great to get the first win.
“He had been working smartly at home but had been off the track for a long time, so today was very much about getting him started. I thought it was a good performance against some good, solid horses.
“He obviously had a hold-up in France, was off the track for an extended period of time with an injury and we have had him for the last few months. We’ve liked him since he arrived, he will head for stakes level and is a nice horse going forward.
“He was a little keen and fresh in the race, I think he’ll stay further and there is a Listed race in Cork over a mile which he could potentially go to, but we’ll see how he pulls up first.”