Master The World repeated last year's success in the £40,000 Listed Betway Churchill Stakes (2.45pm) at Lingfield Park on Saturday, November 17, when beating Big Country and Addeybb by a neck and three-quarters of a length in a thrilling finish.
In winning the 10-furlong Polytrak Fast-Track Qualifier, the David Elsworth-trained seven-year-old receives a free and automatic place in the £200,000 Betway Easter Classic over the same course and distance on Good Friday, April 19 - a race in which he was second to Victory Bond last season.
Master The World (6/1) was held up in sixth of the nine runners by Sean Levey and flew home in the straight to collar 7/1 chance Big Country (Michael Appleby/Luke Morris) in the dying strides, with 15/8 favourite Addeybb (William Haggas/James Doyle) staying on from the rear to take third. The first three home finished clear of the fourth, Scarlet Dragon.
The winner, who won in 2m 1.23s, now looks set for a break before returning to Lingfield Park on February 23 for the G3 Betway Winter Derby, which he was awarded in the stewards' room last season, ahead of the Betway Easter Classic on £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day.
Elsworth said: "Master The World is a good old boy and he likes it around here. Sean gets on with him very well and they communicate. He will have a bit of a break now until the spring and then he may have a prep race, or else he might come straight back for the Betway Winter Derby.
"I know he was awarded that race last winter, but it would have been an injustice if he hadn't as he was flying when he really did get impeded. Sometimes those decisions are marginal, but not that one.
"He likes this surface, but he's not a slouch and also won that big handicap on turf at Goodwood (the 2017 Golden Mile Heritage Handicap)."
Levey was recording a third straight win in the Betway Churchill Stakes, having also partnered Godolphin's Team Talk to victory in 2016. The jockey, who landed the G1 1,000 Guineas on Billesdon Brook in May, only returned to action earlier this week after being sidelined with a broken collarbone sustained at Salisbury in June.
He said: "Master The World is just getting more straightforward. When you ride him out he is like a two-year-old and a complete nuisance, but he is very professional now at the races and that's a help.
"He just about stays a mile and two and this track suits a sharp horse who can pick up, which is why he is quite good around here.
"I was going really well until that spill at Salisbury, but I had gone a long time without ever having an injury and the laws of averages said it was going to happen one day. I am back now and so far, so good. I just have to keep it going now."
Big Country, who was previously unbeaten in three runs on artificial surfaces, ran an excellent race in second under a 3lb penalty from the widest draw of all, prompting part owner Chris Dixon to declare: "He will come back and win the Betway Winter Derby now."
Jockey Luke Morris added: "He has only just got beat and he will meet the winner on level terms next time (3lb better off) and so should beat him."
Addeybb, a G2 winner at Sandown in the spring but making his All-Weather debut under a 6lb penalty, did well to finish so close, having had plenty to do turning in.
James Doyle said: "I had a good trip round to be fair, although I was a bit further back than ideal. I don't know what the plan will be now, but he has run well and showed he handles the surface."
Hugo Palmer also enjoyed a repeat victory in the day's other Fast-Track Qualifier, the £37,000 Listed Betway Golden Rose Stakes (3.15pm) over six furlongs, although it was progressive three-year-old Encrypted who delivered this time, with last year's winner Gifted Master fading into fifth.
Encrypted (6/1) showed a good turn of foot to take up the running entering the final half-furlong and had enough in reserve to hold off the late challenges of Intisaab (10/1, David O'Meara/Martin Harley) and Kimberella (10/1, Richard Fahey/Jack Garritty), with a head and a short-head separating the first three home.
The son of Showcasing, who prevailed in 1m 10.34s, looks set to head to £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day having gained a free and guaranteed spot in the six-furlong £150,000 Betway All-Weather Sprint Championships.
Josephine Gordon, who is Encrypted's regular rider and had partnered him to three previous All-Weather wins and second place in Doncaster's Portland Handicap, said: "I had to sit and suffer a bit, as Encypted can be a bit keen, but I think he is even better on the All-Weather as he has just beaten some really competitive horses and he has done it nicely. I think there is a lot more to come.
"We have worked out he likes a bit of time between his races, but he was in brilliant order today and the good strong gallop to aim at helped him. He is so easy and straightforward."
George Boughey, Palmer's assistant, added: "Encrypted always showed a lot as a two-year-old and that's our first Listed winner for Juddmonte, so very pleasing. He is finally maturing."
He added: "He is coming into his own now and is four from five on the All-Weather, so we thought we would take our chance with him even though he was pretty wrong at the weights. That All-Weather form holds him in very good stead and Josie gave him a particularly good ride.
"He saw it out well. We always wondered if he would get further than six furlongs but it looks as if that is his trip. He is qualified for Finals Day now and it's the obvious place to go, as it's a lot of money."
Gifted Master, who won the Stewards' Cup this year and was sent off the 2/1 favourite, was not disgraced in a race which was not run to suit.
Boughey said: "Gifted Master didn't get the easy lead that he often gets as Corinthia Knight (sixth) bounced out and made it a real test. He didn't turn like he did last year either, as last year he was away and gone. He just wasn't in the same rhythm, but he is a star and there will be other days.
"He will probably try and win one of these sprints and then it's All-Weather Championships or Dubai. His owner Doctor Ali Ridha is in Dubai and we went out there with him a few years ago, but it didn't really work out, so I would say the championships here are probably his aim."
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