Unbeaten Toronado makes all in Champagne
Report: Doncaster, Saturday
One Call Insurance Champagne Stakes (Group 2) 7f, 2yo, colts and geldings
TORONADO made all the running to deny odds-on favourite Dundonnell in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes, keeping on gamely under pressure for a half-length win.
Dundonnell returned at 5-6 with Tha'Ir (9-2) two and a quarter lengths back in third.
The 11-4 winner now has three victories from as many starts and gave trainer Richard Hannon a second successive win in this race, following Trumpet Major last year.
Toronado has been introduced into Paddy Power's 2013 Classics lists at 16-1 for both the Derby and 2,000 Guineas.
Richard Hughes, who was clearly impressed with the winner, said: "I was in a catch-22 situation as nothing else was going to make it but I didn't want to just give them a lead. Making the running didn't suit my lad but I loved the way he quickened up."
Pace looked likely to be an issue with only five runners but Hughes took control from the start and soon had Toronado a couple of lengths in front, tracked by Tha'Ir, Dundonnell, Birdman and Maxentius.
Dundonnell emerged as the main challenger in the last two furlongs but he could never get his head in front of the brave leader.
Roger Charlton, who trains the runner-up, said: "I think he has run very well, he's just been beaten by a slightly better horse I guess. It might have been slightly better if the pace had been faster but there are no excuses.
"James [Doyle] had a big problem pulling him up and a mile will suit him. There is no decision where he will go next, there's no reason to rush a decision at this stage."
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford was pleased with Tha'Ir. "He is a rock-solid horse who found his level a long time ago," he said. "He sets a good benchmark and the assessor can rate the first two with confidence through him."