Tiber Flow provided trainer William Haggas and jockey Tom Marquand with back-to-back victories in the JenningsBet Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle.
Sense Of Duty notched her fourth successive victory with a brilliant display in the Group Three contest 12 months ago, but it was significantly harder work for her stablemate.
Tiber Flow, already a dual course winner and narrowly beaten on All-Weather Championships Finals Day last year, was the 5-2 favourite to make a triumphant return to Gosforth Park following a couple of sound efforts in defeat earlier this season at Newmarket and Haydock.
Always travelling strongly in midfield, the grey responded to Marquand’s urgings to run down Spycatcher inside the last of the six furlongs, with a neck separating them at the line.
“He’s a cracking little horse with loads of ability, he just needs things to go his way,” said Marquand.
“We didn’t go overly quick there, but there’s a headwind and the surface is bit slower than it looked like it was yesterday. He is a horse that has won over seven furlongs before, so if they go a nice tempo and you’ve got one to aim at you’re confident you’re going to be the strongest finisher.
“I think he’s still progressing. He’s a strong little horse and has probably become become more effective at sprinting this year. He was fast before, but he almost didn’t realise how quick he was.”
Maureen Haggas, assistant to her husband, said: “It’s hard work (the surface) today and he just ground it out really.
“He’s a sweet horse with a great temperament. He won a Listed race at Newbury last year so to win a Group Three is really nice.
“We’ll see how he is and see what the ground is like. William will work out where to go.”
Haggas also provided an update on Sense Of Duty, who has not been seen since blitzing her rivals here last year.
She does hold an entry in the July Cup, but appears unlikely to make her comeback at Newmarket.
She added: “We’re trying (to get her back). She’s such a good filly, she’s just delicate and has front legs that go in four different directions.
“Yes she’s coming back, but it’s a slow process and we’re now looking at the Sprint Cup at Haydock (in September).
“We were sort of hoping for Royal Ascot, but that didn’t happen and she wants soft ground, so we’d have been struggling anyway.”