Native Trail underlined his Classic credentials by extending his unbeaten record in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Hugely impressive on his racecourse introduction at Sandown in June, Charlie Appleby’s colt had since edged a thrilling renewal of the Superlative Stakes on Newmarket’s July Course before successfully graduating to Group One level in the National Stakes at the Curragh.
The brilliant Pinatubo completed the National Stakes-Dewhurst double for Appleby, jockey William Buick and the Godolphin team two years ago to confirm his status as 2019’s champion juvenile – and Native Trail was the 5-6 favourite to follow suit on the Rowley Mile.
It was not entirely straightforward for the market leader, with Dubawi Legend proving why he is held in such high regard by trainer Hugo Palmer with a bold effort from the front.
Buick had to get to work with a couple of furlongs still to run – but once angled out to challenge Dubawi Legend, Native Trail picked up smartly and was ultimately well on top as he passed the post two lengths to the good.
Champagne Stakes winner Bayside Boy was just half a length further away in third.
Coral make Native Trail their 3/1 favourite (from 4/1) for next year’s 2000 Guineas, with his stablemate Coroebus – winner of the Autumn Stakes just half-an-hour earlier – next in the market at 5/1.
Appleby said of Native Trail: “When he was walking around the paddock I was getting more confident, because he was the standout.
“Today is a huge day, and we have two smart colts on our hands for next year’s Guineas. We’re fortunate to be going into the winter with two fantastic colts.
“There’s a lot more to come, you’d like to say, but he (Native Trail) is unbeaten with two Group Ones. I’m not going to get too carried away.
“He’s a big boy, 540 kilos, and came in at that weight from the breeze-ups. Full credit to the team who purchased him, and Norman Williamson who consigned him. Since then, Norman has taken a keen interest.
“Norman said after the National Stakes he still didn’t know what he was doing – and he was correct, because his work at home wasn’t too exciting, but he warms into a race and does it the right way round.
“I was confident once William gave him the office he would pick up well.”
He added: “I don’t know if he’ll have a trial. We’ll try and split them up, but we’ll look forward to the spring.
“I’ve never put him anywhere near Coroebus at home – they are different types. Coroebus travels very well and has a smart turn of foot, whereas this horse does things in a different manner.”
Buick said: “It was a messy race, and we went a messy pace. Obviously we ended up on this rail for some reason, but I sort of half-expected that.
“I gave myself options the whole way through, and I knew ultimately that when I gave him a clear run he would pick up, and he did.”
When asked to compare Native Trail to Coroebus, he added: “It’s very hard – they are both very good. But one is a dual Group One winner, so at this stage, he’s ahead.
“We’ll see next year, but if they both develop it will be interesting.”