Salateen (far side) made all of the running and just held on from Keystroke and Yuften in a frenetic finish to the £50,000 Listed sunbets.co.uk Lady Wulfruna Stakes (3.15pm) at Wolverhampton on Saturday, March 11.
In winning the seven-furlong Tapeta Fast-Track Qualifier, the David O’Meara-trained five-year-old receives a free and automatic place in the £150,000 Sunbets All-Weather Mile Championships on Polytrack at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, April 14.
Salateen, a turf handicap winner at Meydan, Dubai, on February 9, was drawn widest of all in stall 12 but the 25/1 outsider broke smartly for Phillip Makin and soon established a clear lead over the rest of the field.
He kicked clear in the straight and still held a significant advantage entering the final half-furlong but was all out in the closing stages as Keystroke (Jeremy Noseda/Adam Kirby) and Yuften (Roger Charlton/Andrea Atzeni) both ran on strongly from the rear.
The line came just in time for Salateen, who prevailed by a nose over 7/4 favourite Keystroke in 1m 26.75s, with a short-head back to Yuften (9/2) as the first three finished a length and a quarter clear of the fourth of the 11 runners, Amazour (Ismail Mohammed/Tom Marquand, 16/1).
David O’Meara commented: “It was good to see Salateen win. He seems to have two ways of running but, when he is in form, he is a very hard horse to get by.
“He has not been back long from Dubai. Sometimes, running them quite soon after they return can work and it has obviously worked well today.
“He has never run over a mile for me, so I will have to speak to the owner Sheikh Abdullah [Almalek Alsabah] and see what his thoughts are regarding Good Friday.
“It’s great prize money, so I think we will have to consider it.”
Phillip Makin added: “Salateen shut down fairly quickly and luckily we just held on but it was fairly tight.
“He was drawn 12 but he helps you because he breaks well. Once he did hit the front, his ears were pricked the whole way round and I felt like I was getting it quite easy. He picked up really well off the turn.
“Bar the last couple of strides, when he gave me a couple of worries, he did it very well. I could hear the others coming but he did enough to hold on.
“He has two ways of running. If he gets where he wants to be, he really puts his head down and tries – it’s all or nothing with him. On his day, he is very good and looked as good as ever today.
“The draw was a big worry but, apart from Swift Approval, I couldn’t see masses of pace so we took a chance and it paid off.”
Earlier on the same card, progressive four-year-old Nimr gained a third victory at Wolverhampton this season with a clear-cut success from 12 rivals for trainer Richard Fahey in the £50,000 sunbets.co.uk Lincoln Trial Handicap (2.05pm) over an extended mile.
Sent off the 3/1 favourite, Nimr was covered up behind the leaders by Tony Hamilton and quickened smartly to take the advantage over a final furlong out before going away for a length and three-quarters verdict over 22/1 chance Forceful Appeal (Simon Dow/Luke Morris) in 1m 47.89s.
The son of Shamardal, who is owned by Al Shaqab Racing, looks likely to head to Doncaster on April 1 for the £100,000 Betway Lincoln on turf, although a 5lb penalty may still not be enough to guarantee his place in the final 22-runner field.
Tony Hamilton commented: “Nimr is a horse that we have always liked and still has relatively few miles on the clock – this was his ninth start.
“He can be very keen in his races but switched off nicely today. He was a little bit gassy but we went a nice, even gallop and I always felt that I was going to win turning in.
“I was in a pocket and looking for a bit of room and, once I got that, I knew that I had enough horse underneath me to get me out of it. He has picked up and won nicely.
“He can only beat what is put in front of him and has won well, so it’s onwards and upwards to the Lincoln. It’s madness that he is not guaranteed to get on off his mark of 94 and a penalty, but it just shows how hard it is to win the Lincoln.
“He seems to be progressing with every run and is a lovely horse.”