Dainty Tess and Man Booker headlined an outstanding opening day at Ascot for trainer Dan Morton, taking out both blacktype events on the meeting.
First-up since a three start Adelaide campaign in April and May, Dainty Tess showed an outstanding turn-of-foot to take out the Listed Furphy-Crawford Stakes (1000m).
The five-year-old was away from the gates only fairly and had just one runner behind her throughout.
The Chris Gangemi-trained trio of Super Maxi, Durendal and Lockroy controlled the tempo in front, while Caiprinha was caught wide throughout.
Despite struggling to keep up with her rivals in the early stages, Dainty Tess’ finishing burst was enough to see her secure her first Listed race win, to go with two Group 3 victories.
Durendal finished second, the eighth consecutive race he has been placed, all of which have been at blacktype level.
Celebrity Dream ran on strongly to finish third, while stablemate State Solicitor finished at the tail of the field.
Morton said he still had confidence Dainty Tess would be able to overcome the slow start.
“You’ve got your heart in your mouth,” he said.
“I was happy they were putting a bit of heat on up front, because I didn’t want them getting cheap sectionals.”
Morton said the win gave him confidence Dainty Tess would measure up to Group 1 level in the Winterbottom Stakes on December 1.
“Obviously we are all heading that way,” he said.
“She’s very capable, she’s taken some big scalps so we will aim up at that.”
Man Booker completed the successful day for the Morton stable, taking out the Group 3 Northerly Stakes (1400m).
The six-year-old was well beaten in the race last year, but a last start win in the Listed Farnley Stakes suggested he was back near his best form.
In contrast to Dainty Tess’ win, Man Booker was ridden on speed by Paul Harvey, outside of last year’s Railway Stakes winner Great Shot.
Man Booker hit the front inside the last 200m, while race favourite Galaxy Star also started to make up ground down the outside.
In a thrilling finish, Man Booker held on to win by a short half-head to Galaxy Star, while Great Shot was third.
Morton said he was proud of Man Booker’s effort, given the disappointment of last year’s Northerly Stakes
“We were five weeks between runs and I thought we were a little bit vulnerable in running where we were,” he said.
“We couldn’t put our finger on why he didn’t fire last time around.
“He’s a really tough big horse now and hopefully plenty of racing is still in front of him.”
Morton confirmed Man Booker would aim at the Railway Stakes and Kingston Town Classic over the TABtouch Masters series.
Chocolate Holic bled in the Group 3 event.