Withhold back with another front-running masterclass

Withhold again proved he is a stayer worth waiting for as he returned from another long absence to give owner Tony Bloom back-to-back wins in the valuable Marsh Cup at Newbury.

The six-year-old, last seen in the Geelong Cup 269 days ago, was immediately promoted to favourite for the £1 million Sky Bet Ebor at York next month with the sponsors going 12-1 (from 25-1). 

Trainer Roger Charlton seemed lukewarm about the Ebor mission and he said: "I don't know what we'll do next. He's in the Ebor but that's over a mile and six and so much depends on the draw, plus he's also in the Goodwood Cup.

"That was a remarkable effort. You need to be very fit to run two miles in tacky ground in a strong headwind. The other horses had all run several times and were race-fit but it was nine months since he ran and he has a known bleeding problem, so that was some performance."

Jason Watson, who cemented his riding contract with the Beckhampton trainer this year, followed the Robert Winston blueprint employed in last year's all-the-way Northumberland Plate success as Withhold kept up the gallop to give 18lb to second-placed Billy Ray. 

Coeur De Lion and this year's Northumberland Plate winner Who Dares Wins filled the frame.

Drawn in 12, Watson made his way to the running rail and continued to take the shortest way home, sticking to it in the home straight. Withhold answered his every call to snare a third big staying handicap having won the 2017 Cesarewitch at Newmarket on his second start for Charlton.

Bloom, who won last year's £100,000 race with Stratum, was denied the chance of a second Northumberland Plate when Withhold was found to have a low-grade lung infection in his pre-race scope.

Charlton had already nursed the six-year-old patiently back from the setback of bleeding when disappointing in the Geelong Cup last November.