Easterby had been campaigning the seven-year-old over seven furlongs, and had even attempted to stretch his stamina to a mile and a quarter, but it is over the minimum trip Ancient Cross is at his best.
He showed his hand over five furlongs when winning at the Dante meeting at York in May, and he was running in the feature race on the second night of the Northumberland Plate meeting off a 6lb higher mark.
The punters nibbled him in from an early price of 16-1 into 11-1, although it was Brian Ellison’s Mon Brav who was all the rage and was sent off the 4-1 favourite.
On a good night generally for favourite backers, this time those who followed the money knew their fate early.
Graham Gibbons guided his mount through a gap a furlong and a half out and Ancient Cross shot clear to put the race to bed, with the front-running pair of Noodles Blue Boy and Verinco fighting out the minor honours and length and three-quarters away.
“He showed a lot of speed there and he picked up really well,” said Gibbons.
“I got there too soon really, but the gaps were there and he was going well.
“There’s more to come.”
Part-owner Steve Hull added: “Mick has been running him over the wrong trip, he was convinced he was a seven-furlong horse but he’s obviously not now.
“He’s won that off 95 so we’ll be looking at races like the Stewards’ Cup hopefully, or maybe even Listed races.”
The class act on the card was Sir Henry Cecil’s Principal Role who duly justified her 7-4 starting price in the EBF ’Kheleyf’ Hoppings Stakes.
A winner of a Listed race at Newbury last term, this was her second win at such a level.
Tom Queally set his mount plenty to do and was well adrift of Opera Gal turning into the straight, but the four-year-old quickened up in fine style to beat Fanditha by three-quarters of a length.
“She’s a classy filly,” said Queally.
“I always felt like I was going to get there and she’s done it well tonight.”
Cecil’s representative William Brown added: “She’s come on an awful lot for her first run, her work had improved massively.
“To be honest, with what she was showing us at home we expected her to win.
“We had a bit of a concern if the rain came but it stayed away thankfully.
“It looks like she’ll get further but the boss hasn’t mentioned a target.”
Jim Goldie’s Daring Dream (11-4 favourite) won his second race within a week in the KB Sheet Metal & GDBS Handicap than he had at Ayr.
Gary Bartley’s mount travelled easily enough up to challenge Reel Buddy Star, last year’s winner, but he had to work very hard to get past.
He eventually got the verdict in a photo by a head.
“He travelled as well as last week, but he just had a think about going past,” said Bartley. “We knew the other horse would go hard from the front and he’s very tough.” Goldie added: “He’ll have a little break now, he won’t run under a double penalty.