Cross Counter impresses under Buick with Dee Ex Bee in second
The Charlie Appleby-trained Cross Counter ran out an impressive winner of the Group 3 Gordon Stakes, beating Derby second and 6-4 favourite Dee Ex Bee in convincing fashion.
The 7-4 second favourite, who won a handicap at Ascot on his last start, settled just behind Mark Johnston's St Leger contender before quickening well for a four-and-a-half-length victory, setting a new course record.
Cross Counter now joins winners such as Highland Reel, Ulysses and Crystal Ocean, who all won this before going on to greater things.
Winning jockey William Buick said: "It was a lovely performance from Cross Counter. Charlie has brought him on lovely and he's not the finished article yet so there is more to come.
"He has opened up a lot of doors with this win. He is going to stay in training and is only going to keep progressing. I think he is very talented and he put a long distance between himself and his rivals.
"We didn't go an end-to-end gallop but it was an even gallop and it wasn't a falsely-run race by any means. He managed to quicken off the front again, which is always a very good sign.
"It was a track record and was a quality performance. He beat a top-quality stayer in Dee Ex Bee in second and it was great that he could make the step-up to this grade.
"Cross Counter quickened off the front. He gave me a nice feel and it was nice to see him win like that today."
Dee Ex Bee still on course for St Leger
Despite a defeat, Mark Johnston is still targeting the St Leger for the Derby runner-up, who may have one more start at York before heading to the final Classic.
Johnston said: "He just doesn't have the gears on fast ground over a mile and a half. They haven't gone that quick, but straight out of the gate he's been on and off the bridle.
"Silvestre said when he wanted to make some use of him at the top of the hill, he wasn't quick enough to get into it. More cut and more stamina will give him a chance. The St Leger is still on.
"We wouldn't go to the Voltigeur if the weather stays like this, but we'll leave him in it if it comes up soft. Otherwise it could be straight to the Leger. He's never disgraced himself even in conditions that aren't ideal. Silvestre said there's a big one in him when conditions are right."
The James Fanshawe-trained Bombyx, the 10-1 outsider of the quartet, finished in third with 9-4 chance Sun Maiden a disappointing fourth.
Paddy Power have priced Cross Counter at 20-1 for the Melbourne Cup. He cannot run in the St Leger because he has been gelded.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com.