Calling The Wind finally got his moment in the spotlight when swooping to take the JenningsBet Northumberland Plate glory at Newcastle.
Richard Hughes’ consistent seven-year-old has been an ever-present in staying contests – but the big prizes had proved elusive, placing at Royal Ascot for the third year in a row when second in the Ascot Stakes most recently.
Ridden by Neil Callan in the Gosforth Park feature, the in-form rider had his mount travelling kindly in midfield early on and the 14-1 shot showed he was none the worse for his Royal meeting exertions only 11 days ago when picking his way to the front with a furlong to run.
He was quickly joined at the head of affairs by ante-post gamble Golden Rules, but the Calling The Wind always had enough in reserve to hold off the 9-2 joint-favourite, coming home half a length clear to secure the victory connections have craved in a breezy north east.
Hughes immediately outlined another big handicap prize as the next target.
Speaking from home, said: “I’m gutted I’m not there, to be honest! We’re so busy at home and I probably wouldn’t have been much use there.
“He ran really well at Ascot and he’s been so unlucky in some of his races. That mare that beat him at Ascot improved 10lb for being in foal. He always runs his race.
“He’s a grand horse and you’d love to have a yard full of ones like him.
“We’re now going to have a shot at the Ebor.”
Callan – who won the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot with Triple Time – said: “Fair play to Richard. It’s a shame he’s not here as it’s a big win for him and his team.
“I spoke to him this morning and he said ‘no instructions, do what you want, but if you’re going well two down I’d rather you kept him on the bridle’, and I think that was crucial.
“When I took him back I think it was probably a winning move because if I’d sent him on I think I might have got beaten.
“He ran a great race at Ascot and he obviously came out of it bucking and kicking. He travelled round beautifully and at the top of the straight I was very confident he was going to run a big race.
“It’s a team effort, I was only on his back for two minutes.”
Gareth Cheshire, the owner of Golden Rules, became a social media star in the days leading up to the race following a bullish television interview.
Having flown back from a holiday in Ibiza especially for the race, Cheshire did not quite get the result he predicted and hoped for, but he was proud of his six-year-old’s performance in defeat nonetheless.
“I’m a little bit gutted, but I’m over the moon to come here and run in this race,” he said.
“So near yet so far and the story goes on – stay tuned!
“According to my children I’ve been poked 250,000 times on Facebook or whatever it’s called!
“We haven’t got egg on our face, we were fully justified in coming here and he’s run a blinder.
“We flew back from Ibiza last night and it’s cost me quite a few bikinis and a handbag with the wife!”
Tom Faulkner, the son of Golden Rules’ trainer Deborah, said: “The first thing Oisin (Murphy) said when he got off the horse was he was unlucky in running.
“A horse has come alongside him and he’s had to check him twice. Take nothing away from the winner – it’s a 19-runner handicap and you need luck.
“He’s come here and proved he’s a nice horse. Let’s get him home and see what he’s like. I don’t have any firm plans, but I’ve got my eye on London Series Final (at Kempton) and there’s the All-Weather Championships back here on Good Friday.”