Roger Charlton brought off one of the training feats of the year when successfully returning Withhold from a nine-month absence in the £100,000 Marsh Cup at Newbury.
The former Cesarewitch and Northumberland Plate winner missed the Melbourne Cup due to a blood vessel problem and following that abortive trip to Australia had undergone wind surgery.
Jason Watson set out to dominate in the extended two-mile handicap and, after giving his mount a breather rounding the home bend, set sail for home with most of his rivals firmly under the cosh.
Billy Ray emerged as the only threat and looked a real danger approaching the distance, but Withhold (17-2) showed his class to pull a length and three-quarters clear.
Coeur De Lion was three lengths away in third and his Alan King-trained stablemate Who Dares Wins fourth.
Charlton will discuss future plan with owner Tony Bloom, but the Sky Bet Ebor and the Goodwood Cup will come under consideration.
The Beckhampton trainer said: “That was amazing. You need to be fit to run two miles on tacky ground with a strong headwind, and it’s nine months since he ran followed by a bleeding problem.
“I am delighted for Jason, who had him lobbing along beautifully. He’s a magnificent horse.”
Eyeing future targets, he added: “He’s in the Ebor which would mean seeing if he’s as capable over a mile and three-quarters, and there’s also the Goodwood Cup.
“If you cut out Australia he’s got a very good profile. When he ran there (Australia) there was blood halfway through the race. It’s a big decision to go there again, but you’d think he’s the perfect type for it.”
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