Champion sprinter Barakey signalled his return to big time racing with a triumphant win in the Listed Goodwood Sprint at Belmont Park yesterday.

After an absence of eight months and at his first attempt at 1300m, Barakey outpointed budding younger star and hot favourite Smoko.

Living up to its pre-race hype both combatants went stride-for-stride down the home straight before Barakey gained the upper hand to score by 1 ½ lengths.

Smoko, who had the fitness edge after his win in the Belmont Newmarket (1200m) and second placing in the Beaufine Sprint (1000m), won the early speed battle.

The Snitzel gelding went forward and took up the running for jockey William Pike but was stalked and pressured from the outset by Jason Brown on Barakey.

Trainer Jim Taylor, who won four consecutive Goodwood Sprints with Idyllic Prince, lavished praise on Barakey’s comeback victory.

“To get over a great horse like Smoko proves how good he is,” Taylor said.

“To come back from his injuries and setbacks is testament to the horse.

“He’s had a lot more issues than people know of.

“To be able to come back and beat a quality field is great.”

Barakey has won 13 of 15 starts with last year’s Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington and the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot his only failures.

“He chipped a knee badly in Melbourne and had a virus in the other one which we didn’t know about until after the race,” said Taylor.

“He could nearly be unbeaten.”

Brown, who rode Idyllic Prince to three of his victories and combined with Tribula in 2008, said Barakey had silenced the critics.

“It’s just good to have him back,” said Brown.

“Once he balanced up I didn’t think he was going to get beat.

“I thought he was pretty well disrespected and to come and win was great.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to knock him.

“He only had two gallops, his trials and a lot of long sand work.

“Credit must go to Jim on his training achievement and to the horse.”

Zester trailed Barakey and Smoko to fill third placing.

Last year’s Goodwood Sprint champion Settle Strada and Celebrity Miss, the only other runner under double figures, dead-heated for fourth.