The champion-elect kept the five-year-old in the pack as Arctiid set a strong gallop from the off. The leader came back to his field a quarter of a mile from home, at which point the well-fancied bottom weight Spirito Libro battled into contention and a furlong out had her head in front. The tiny filly fought gamely as Wilcuma ranged alongside inside the final furlong, but the bigger gelding, trained by Peter Makin, had her measure.
It was the 101st winner of the season for the Irishman, who notched up his 23rd century in 24 seasons in the last race at Chester on Friday night. He said: "They went a good pace in front, but mine was always travelling well. Once they stopped in front he finished well. He's very honest and game."
Apart from the big race, it was Willie Carson's day. The flying Scot scored a treble on the first three winning favourites, the two-year-olds Pun and Sahm and the stayer Celeric.
Pun, the only filly in the opener, held on bravely to hold the newcomers Jackson Falls and Eurolink Spartacus in a finish of heads, but Sahm, the first-born son of the top racemare Salsabil, had a considerably easier task in the following race, hacking up by five lengths over one opponent.
Celeric, who took the Northumberland Plate two weeks ago, warmed up for the Ebor Handicap with a comfortable win in the Fosters Rated Handicap. The four-year-old, trained, like Pun, by David Morley, came with his usual run from off the pace and found a gap between the pace-setting Kristal's Paradise and the rails opening like the Red Sea for the Israelites, and dived through it under a hands-and-heels ride.
The runaway Oaks winner Lady Carla remains hot favourite for today's Irish Oaks despite unsubstantiated remarks about her soundness made by a TV pundit early in the day. After being taken to task by the filly's furious trainer Henry Cecil, John McCririck, of Channel 4, later withdrew his comments, which implied Lady Carla had a wind problem and was unlikely to run after today. The filly's connections are considering taking further action against McCririck and Channel 4.
It will be a surprise and disappointment if Lady Carla, third favourite behind Pentire and Shaamit for the King George and subject of plans for a four-year-old career, fails to extend her unbeaten sequence to four at The Curragh today. In retrospect her rivals at Epsom were not a vintage collection of fillies, but she beat them by nine lengths in the style of a top-class performer.
Lady Carla may have most to fear from the improving French challenger Shamadara and from Camporese, who, on only her second racecourse appearance, was a staying-on fourth behind Lady Carla at Epsom.Reuse content