Withhold is the new Melbourne Cup favourite after an all-the-way win in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
Absent since he won the Cesarewitch in impressive fashion in October, the Roger Charlton-trained five-year-old overcame his long absence in the style of a classy stayer.
Robert Winston was able to dictate the race from the front and supporters of the favourite barely had an anxious moment.
Owned by Brighton football club chairman Tony Bloom, Withold beat Prince Of Arran by 2-3/4 lengths in the two-mile (3200m) race.
“The form of the Cesarewitch was well franked,Charlton said. “I guess in hindsight the handicapper could have put him up a little bit more. He will obviously go up another 10lb or so, I guess, but he is a nice horse.
“I’ve got to check the conditions of getting into the Melbourne Cup, but that is the long-term aim.
“Depending on what we need to do to qualify, he will probably do the minimum before we go to Australia. I’m not going to run him all summer, as the target is the Melbourne Cup.”
Great to hear @RogerCharlton make absolutely clear the Melbourne Cup @FlemingtonVRC is the aim for Withhold and will not be approached as an afterthought. Having plotted him superbly to win the Ces and Plate a third long-range target triumph would be lovely. 20-1 is a fair price.
— Lee Mottershead (@leemottershead) June 30, 2018
Meanwhile, the Melbourne Cup-winning combination of trainer Joseph O’Brian and Australian owners Lloyd and Nick Williams has celebrated another major success with Latrobe in the Irish Derby.
The winner was ridden by the trainer’s brother Donnacha and fought hard to beat Rostropovich and Saxon Warrior, both prepared by their father Aidan O’Brien.
Latrobe is a son of Camelot who Joseph O’Brien rode to win the 2012 Derby for Aidan O’Brien.
Joseph O’Brien became the youngest trainer to win the Melbourne Cup last year when Rekindling took out the famous race. Rekindling is on the second line of betting for this year’s race.