Invincible Army ran out an emphatic winner of the Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes.
The James Tate-trained four-year-old had appeared much improved when making an impressive start to his campaign in the Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster in late March and he was a 7-2 joint-favourite stepping up to Group Two level on the Knavesmire.
PJ McDonald rode a patient race for much of the six-furlong contest as the speedy El Astronaute adopted his customary pace-setting role.
As his challenge petered out racing inside the final furlong, Invincible Army was just getting going and he powered home late on to score by an impressive two and a quarter lengths.
Major Jumbo (8-1) was best of the rest in second, with the other joint-favourite, Yafta, finishing third.
Tate said: “That’s a local win. I was born in Harrogate and grew up in Tadcaster, you can’t get more local than that!
“It’s fantastic, he just seems to be different this year, he’s even posing for photographs and is calm before the race. He really seems to know what he’s here for.
“I’d still be concerned if the ground ever came up really rattling, summer fast ground, but as long as it is safe, which it certainly was today, it’s fine. It’s the first day of the year here and they’ve done a nice job. If it was softer that would be even more in our favour.”
Paddy Power was suitably impressed with Invincible Army, making him the 7-2 favourite from 8-1 for the Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot.
Tate added: “You have to think of Group Ones only from here on in. He gets six furlongs well, so we’ve only got the Diamond Jubilee, the Sprint Cup and the Champions Sprint, which will be the three main targets.
“We always thought he’d get to the top one day. His dam (Rajeem), who (owner) Saeed Manana raced, didn’t win her Group One until she was four and neither did Invincible Spirit (sire), so we always hoped this would be his year and that was part of the reason we put him away so quickly last season.
“I did hope he might do something like that, but as trainers, even when it is going well, you are disappointed more than you are not.
“That’s our biggest win. We nearly won a French Classic last year with Hey Gaman, though.”