Malotru looks to have a big year ahead following a sparkling return in the £45,000 Listed Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Spring Cup at Lingfield Park this afternoon, Saturday, February 29.
The seven-furlong Polytrack contest has a history of producing top-class winners, with three-time G1 scorer Paco Boy (2008) and star sprinter Ertijaal (2014) featuring on the roll of honour.
Trained in Newmarket by Marco Botti, Malotru had already shown a smart level of form in 2019, following up an impressive debut victory on the All-Weather at Chelmsford City with a G3 success at Milan in June.
The Casamento colt returned from a mid-summer break to finish fourth in the G2 Gimcrack Stakes at York in August and fifth in the G2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury the following month, when he hung badly left in the closing stages.
With Andrea Atzeni back in the saddle for the first time since their victory in Milan, there were no signs of waywardness today. After racing in rear for the first half of the race, Malotru showed an irresistible turn of foot in the straight to run down four of his rivals in a matter of strides.
He hit the front inside the final furlong and won going away by just over three lengths. Godolphin's Raaeb (Saeed bin Suroor/Hector Crouch) finished second, with 7/4 favourite The Perfect Crown (Archie Watson/Hollie Doyle) back in third.
The Ladbrokes Spring Cup is a Fast-Track Qualifier and Malotru is guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Three-Year-Old All-Weather Championship over six furlongs at Lingfield Park on Finals Day, Good Friday, April 10.
Botti said: "I am very pleased. The main thing today was to get Malotru relaxed, as we came here to learn whether he is a sprinter or a horse who could go seven furlongs and possibly a mile, because last year he showed plenty of pace.
"He will definitely come on from this - coming into the race, I was worried that it might be coming 10 days too early from a fitness point of view.
"I think we will stick to seven furlongs now with a view to going up to a mile and we could look at something like the G3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury. Andrea is happy to stay at seven for the time being and eventually we could look at an easy mile. I think that is how we will campaign him, rather than going back to six.
"We thought last year that he was a nice horse, but he finished the season disappointingly in the Mill Reef. Nothing went right for him, as he was very keen and then for whatever reason he hung badly. I was disappointed and it left us in the dark a little about what to do this year. Today was an important stepping-stone in that respect."
Atzeni said: "I rode Malotru once last year, in a two-year-old race in Milan, and he won quite nicely. I had not ridden him since due to other commitments, but he had run well enough behind Pierre Lapin at Newbury, which was obviously a very good race.
"Marco thinks a lot of him. He looked good in the paddock beforehand and picked up nicely. I thought he was the best horse in the race, albeit we did not know how good the favourite was after winning impressively first time out.
"It was a learning curve for this fella. I think he is the sort of horse that if you put him in the race too early, he may not be able to quicken as well as you would like. It is important for him to relax and, if he continues to do that, he could get a bit further."