Communique added to his Jockey Club Stakes victory with a second Group Two success at Headquarters, in the Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.
A field of six contested a fascinating renewal of this 1 ½ mile contest, including last year’s Derby winner Masar, dual Royal Ascot winner Baghdad and Queen’s Vase winning three year-old Dashing Willoughby.
It was the only three year-old in the field who took them along, looking to take advantage of his weight allowance and proven stamina.
Dashing Willoughby led into the home straight, with Communique never far away and Masar also prominent.
However, as the pace intensified, Masar and Baghdad dropped away and Mirage Dancer and Communique took prominence.
Mirage Dancer looked a danger, but Communique answered all of Silvestre De Sousa’s urgings to draw clear inside the final furlong.
Communique ran out a comfortable winner at the line, with Mirage Dancer second and Desert Encounter running on well in third.
Winning trainer Mark Johnston said: “Today was was absolutely perfect. It was a small field, everything has gone right for him and that counts for a lot.
“I thought it would be a tall order to beat Masar but he doesn’t appear to have run up to his best.
“I have never been disappointed with him in any race he has run in, he’s won two Group 2’s now and although he’s been beaten when he’s tried Group 1 company, I am still hopeful one can come his way.
“I doubt he will be supplemented for King George, he’s got a couple of Group 1 entries in Germany and that is most likely the route he will take before coming back for another crack at a top prize here.”
Sir Michael Stoute will head to Goodwood in a bid to land the Glorious Stakes with Mirage Dancer for a second year in succession, after the five-year-old finished a game runner-up to Communique.
Mirage Dancer finished runner-up in this Group 2 event last season and the Newmarket handler is keen to follow a similar path this time, after Ryan Moore’s mount was beaten a length and three-quarters.
Stoute said: “He is a model of consistency, this fella. He always runs big races. I don’t think he will get any further. He was always second best and I think we all knew that.
“I think we will go back to Goodwood. He won that race there last year and we will go back there.”
David Simcock is also plotting a similar campaign to last season for third home Desert Encounter, who was a further half-length back in third under Harry Bentley.
Simcock said: “His time is August, September and October, which we all know anyway. The ground was no problem. There are no excuses about the ground for him, ever. He ran well, ran strong.
“You’d love to go down the same route as we did last year. What I really want to do is go to Newbury next week, then that whole Windsor, Newbury, Canada scenario. He’s still got it in the tank. The Grade 1 Canadian International, which he won last year, is the ultimate plan.
“I don’t want to go to Windsor next week, but it will be there, because that was the race that was set for him. He’s lost his Group 1 penalty now, so life is a little easier for him.”
The race revolved around the 2018 Derby winner Masar, who was having just a second start back following a lengthy lay-off after injury.
However, the Godolphin-owned colt was keen early on and having accepted his fate, his jockey, James Doyle, eased him down in the closing stages and he finished last.
His trainer, Charlie Appleby, admitted: “I’m disappointed. James [Doyle] said he was far too keen for the first half mile he was over-racing again. There was no pace in the race and we thought there might be a bit more than there was, but it did not materialise.
“The question we need to ask is whether we keep him in training or not? That’s a question for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed as to whether he would like to have another crack or not. To be honest with you, I’m going to sit on the fence.
“He is a horse that has pulled up sound and he has shown us, during the course of the week coming into this, just how well he is. We’ll just have to try and get him back on track.
“If there is anything for him, and while it may come too soon, the York Stakes would have been a nice race for him, dropping him back to a mile and a quarter. It may come too quick. I don’t know, is the answer. I’ll get back to you!”