Atalis Bay was a convincing winner of the Listed Coral “Beaten By A Length” Free Bet Scurry Stakes at Sandown.
Andrea Atzeni had Marco Botti’s sprinter prominent throughout – and after taking control mid-race, the 6-4 favourite never appeared under any real threat despite Warrior Brave emerging from the pack.
Atalis Bay had enough under his sleeve to win by three-quarters of a length.
The Cable Bay colt was providing a pointer to the Royal Ascot pretensions of Winter Power – who beat him into second in York’s Westow Stakes last month – as well as signalling his own potential as a progressive three-year-old.
Runner-up Warrior Brave was among his closest pursuers throughout, but could never peg him back – with Irish challenger Steel Bull staying on best of the remainder to finish third, another two and a half lengths back.
The Newmarket trainer said of his winner: “He has got tons of speed. He has got faster and faster since he was a two-year-old
“He pinged the stalls, and Andrea said he was two lengths clear. He said he was trying not to go too quick.
“I thought in the last furlong, when the other horses came to challenge him, he picked up again and ran strongly to the line.
“This is his trip – five furlongs on fast ground. He just keeps improving. Last year he was a nice horse – but not at this level – and this year, I just think he has got stronger and turned into a proper sprinter.”
After a first success at Listed level for Atalis Bay, Botti is understandably happy to have sidestepped Ascot – and is looking forward to a rise in class next, with a possible return to Sandown for next month’s Group Three Coral Charge.
He added: “We could have gone for at Royal Ascot – but he is rated 103, and you are going to give away plenty of weight in a big field.
“So we thought this would suit him quite well as long as the ground was going to be good – and it has worked out well.”As for the next move, he said: “There are two options.
“There is a Group Three here at the beginning of July. He obviously has to take on the older horses now, or perhaps we go to Goodwood (King George Stakes) and take that route.
“He will have to improve again, taking on the older horses, but he seems to be going that way.
“There would be enough time to take in both races, but he is a horse that likes being freshened up after a run.
“We will see how he comes out it and keep an eye on the ground – but it is good to have options.”