Urban Icon justified his position at the head of the market with a dominant display on his All-Weather debut in the £50,000 Listed Bombardier British Hopped Amber Beer Lady Wulfruna Stakes (2.45pm, 10 runners) at Wolverhampton this afternoon, Saturday, March 7.
The seven-furlong Tapeta contest is a Fast-Track Qualifier and Urban Icon is now guaranteed a start in the £150,000 Bombardier All-Weather Mile Championship at Lingfield Park on Finals Day, Good Friday, April 10, a race his trainer Richard Hannon captured in 2019 with Oh This Is Us.
Urban Icon put together a string of good performances in 2019, including a respectable eighth in the G1 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and a fourth in the G3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, although had not raced since finishing third in a mile Listed race at Newmarket in July.
Ridden for the first time by Ryan Moore, the 2/1 favourite made use of his inside draw to sit fourth on the rail behind the front-running Marie's Diamond (Mark Johnston/PJ McDonald) in the first half of the race.
Moore switched his mount at the top of the straight and Urban Icon responded generously down the middle of the track. He grabbed the lead at the furlong pole and, despite edging right late on, always looked in control. The winning distance was three parts of a length from Documenting (Kevin Frost/Jack Mitchell), with Marie's Diamond a length and a quarter further back in third.
Hannon said: "Urban Icon has had a long time off the track. He has always been a very good horse and showed that today, as he got there quite easily.
"His owner Mr Pescod will be very pleased. He did not come today and would have been a wreck if he did because he gets quite nervous.
"We have a good horse and that is what we hoped to see from him today, but it does not always work out like that.
"Urban Icon will probably go to Finals Day now. It is a very nice pot and the prize money on offer is more than a lot of races - even G2 races are not worth that."
Moore said: "Urban Icon had very good form from last year and was very consistent. He had a bit of time off, but he was straight enough and handled the surface fine.
"He just had more class than the others and all went well through the race. Hopefully, he can build on this and have a good rest of the year."
The other £50,000 contest on the card, the Bombardier Golden Beer Lincoln Trial Handicap (1.35pm, 12 runners), went the way of the Ed Walker-trained Assimilation (12/1) under an astute ride from Luke Morris.
A two-time winner at Wolverhampton previously, the four-year-old was well-positioned in a steadily run race and stayed on gamely in the straight to win by half a length from Smile A Mile (Mark Johnston/Joe Fanning).
Assimilation ran three times on dirt in Dubai coming into this race, most recently finishing eighth in a 10-furlong handicap on February 27.
Morris said: "That was a lovely surprise. Fair play to Ed and his team because I think the horse only came back from Dubai on Tuesday or Wednesday. It was a bold shout to bring him here but the sun on his back has obviously done him the world of good.
"We went quite quick to the first turn but down the back they dropped anchor in front. My plan was always to be as close to Silvestre [de Sousa, on 7/4 fav Fox Power] as I could, as I thought he was the one to beat, and I had a lovely trip through the race.
"Hopefully, Assimilation is a horse still on the up."