Heavily favored Motivator confirmed himself as a Classic contender for trainer Michael Bell next year with an unsurprising 2 1/2-length victory in the Racing Post Trophy (Eng-I) for 2-year-olds at Doncaster Saturday.
Backed at 6-4 with Kieren Fallon aboard, the son of Montjeu seized the lead slightly more than a two furlongs from the finish in the one-mile straight event and was ridden out to victory in stubborn if not flashy style. The time on soft going was 1:42.62.
Albert Hall was second, a length in front of Henrik.
The last three winners of the Racing Post Trophy have gone on to win Classics, and Bell has made it clear he regards Motivator as a Derby contender.
"We've had a lot of group I performers in Britain, but this was our first serious chance," Bell told Racing Post
. "This is a serious horse and there will be a lot more to come."
Bell said he could run Motivator in the One Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) at Newmarket as well.
"I think he's got enough speed for the Guineas, but obviously the Derby is the big one," he said. "He is potentially a Guineas horse, but there is also the Irish Guineas to think about on probably easier ground, and then we've got the Dante to consider, and, of course, the Derby. There's a lot to talk about."
Fallon, who said Motivator was flat, won his sixth British group I race of the year to equal Frankie Dettori.
"He's a lot better than that," said the six-time champion jockey. "Maybe it's because it's the end of a long year. I knew I'd win but thought it would be a lot easier, although I guess Albert Hall is a good horse."
Motivator gave owner Royal Ascot Racing Club a first group I triumph.
Henrik was pushed along in the final furlong by rider Ted Durcan to challenge the winner but could not sustain his effort and was beaten in the final strides for second by the Aidan O'Brien-trained Albert Hall, ridden by Jamie Spencer.
Hills of Aran ran fourth for the Ballydoyle connections, followed by Beaver Patrol, Berkhamsted, Elliots World and Frith.