Rebel King silenced any doubters and ended a painful week on a bright note for trainer Darren McAuliffe when he skipped clear to win the St Vincent De Paul Society Sprint (1000m) at Belmont.
The boom sprinter got his campaign back on track and put the smile back on McAuliffe’s face after he spent the better part of the week in hospital with a jaw abscess.
Rebel King scored his first win since setting Belmont Park alight last year when he strung together four consecutive wins on the bounce.
But after a failure in the Listed Belgravia Stakes (1200m) when he finished ahead of one runner and two luckless seconds this campaign, pressure was mounting.
None more so for apprentice Chloe Azzopardi, on the comeback trail from a back injury, who was gifted the opportunity of riding Rebel King for the first time.
The young rider, who McAuliffe rates highly, handled the burden comfortably and although wide she had Rebel King clear of trouble and with momentum.
The son of Universal Ruler improved his strike rate to five wins and three placings from 10 starts after defeating Settle Strada by 2 1/4 lengths.
Part owner Jake Anthonisz said connections were relieved to see Rebel King return to the winner’s list.
“The number one thing emotion wise is a great relief,” he said.
“Chloe did a great job to hold him together in the race.
“There has been a lot of pressure on all the connections over the last month or so.
“The horse has come back and had a couple of very tough runs.
“After that run last year (Belgravia Stakes) we weren’t sure what was going on.
“It’s been nerve racking.
“It’s just so nice to get a win on the board again.”