Stamford Raffles made all under a masterful Richard Kingscote ride to spring a 33/1 shocker in the £25,000 32Red Conditions Race over two miles at Kempton Park on Saturday evening.
In winning the two-mile Polytrack Fast-Track Qualifier, the six-year-old receives a free and automatic place in the £150,000 Betway All-Weather Marathon Championship over the same distance and surface at Lingfield Park on £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 19.
Stamford Raffles, trained in Newmarket by Jane Chapple-Hyam, was the lowest rated of the five-strong field with a mark of 84, but came into the race on the back of a neck second in a 14-furlong Polytrack handicap at Chelmsford City on January 26.
The son of Champs Elysees was immediately sent to the front by Kingscote, as Evens favourite Grey Britain (John Ryan/Adam Kirby) was held up in last, one place behind Spark Plug (9/2, Brian Meehan/Tom Marquand), winner of the Listed 32Red Wild Flower Stakes over 12 furlongs at Kempton in December, who was stepping up to two miles for the first time and giving 3lb to the others.
Stamford Raffles dictated steady fractions in front and kicked on with three furlongs to race, finding enough in front to withhold the strong late challenge of the running-on eight-year-old Spark Plug to prevail by a short-head in 3m 32.93s.
Grey Britain kept on to take third, a length and three-quarters in arrears, with Higher Power (7/2, James Fanshawe/George Wood) and Redicean (11/2, Alan King/David Probert) completing the finishing order. All-Weather veteran Watersmeet (Mark Johnston) was a non-runner with a vet's certificate.
Richard Kingscote commented: "It was the first time that I have ridden Stamford Raffles and he had a bit to do at the weights.
"He was coming into tonight off the back of a positive run at Chelmsford City after bleeding on a couple of occasions, and that has obviously done his confidence the world of good.
"Hats offs to Jane Chapple-Hyam, who has got Stamford Raffles in good heart, and he stuck his head out.
"Once Watersmeet was a non-runner, the trainer rang me again and told me that Stamford Raffles is happy making the running at home and that I should carry on and do it myself.
"The goal was to try and get him qualified for the Good Friday and I would say that Finals Day will be his next aim."
Stamford Raffles, second left, holds on from Spark Plug , picture All Weather Championships
Tom Marquand said: "I thought that Spark Plug stayed the two miles tonight.
"He was coming back off a bit of a break, which has probably caught him a bit, but he will get two miles in other races now he has that run under his belt.
"It wasn't a particularly messy race and I got the run around I wanted. The leader got an easy lead but, with him being rated 84 and us meeting him on level weights, I didn't think it was going to be too much of a problem."
John Ryan remarked: "Grey Britain got trapped in behind a little bit and caught for toe when it turned into a sprint. The winner and Spark Plug have quickened away and got first run on us.
"It was always going to be a tricky race when there was no honest pace, with the starting and stopping.
"I think, in hindsight, Adam probably wishes he had come down the outside rather than trying to fit through the middle as Grey Britain needs one clear run.
"That was his third run of the All-Weather Championships and he should be rated high enough for the Marathon Final, while he liked racing at Lingfield last time.
"Good Friday is very much still the plan for both him and Aircraft Carrier, who won the Marathon Fast-Track Qualifier at Wolverhampton in January."
Breeder Charles Cyzer had a day to remember as Stamford Raffles' half-brother Ginge N Tonic, a three-year-old, also won today in the Ladbrokes Handicap on Polytrack.at Lingfield Park. Both Stamford Raffles and Ginge N Tonic are out his mare Romantic Retreat.