Irish challenger Captain Joy narrowly outpointed fellow grey Sovereign Debt in the Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile Championships Conditions Stakes at Lingfield.
A close third in last year’s renewal for trainer Tracey Collins, Captain Joy was an 11-1 shot to go a couple of places better, having returned from a lengthy absence with victory at Dundalk last month.
A smart start allowed Pat Smullen to acquire a handy position and he tracked 2014 winner Captain Cat for much of the one-mile journey.
The pair kicked on rounding the home turn, but while Captain Cat faltered, Captain Joy stuck to his guns admirably.
Sovereign Debt got a dream run up to the fence on the far side of the track and mounted a strong challenge, but Smullen’s mount was always doing enough and held him at bay by half a length, meaning David NIcholls’ charge was runner-up for the second successive year.
Favourite Mindurownbusiness had every chance and was only a length further back in third.
Smullen said: “He’s a lovely horse. He’s a very good horse on the turf but he’s a real all-weather horse. This surface brings the best out of him.
“He tries very hard and it’s a great training performance by Tracey to get him back from near death. He had surgery after having colic.
“Tracey has been very patient with him and got him qualified.
“This horse dig deeps for you.”