Ertijaal overcame his wide draw to win the 32Red Spring Cup at Lingfield - but it was a close call for the 5/4 favourite.
- Related Content
Paul Hanagan made sure the son of Oasis Dream was quickly away and he was soon racing one off the stands' rail, alongside leader Lilbourne Lass.
William Haggas' charge was pushed to the front turning in and looked set to score comfortably as he led by a couple of lengths a furlong out.
However the last 100 yards were hard work and American Hope (16/1) rattled home to close to within a head at the line. Major Crispies (50/1) outran his huge price in third.
Ertijaal had been second to champion two-year-old Toormore at Leicester in May, beaten less than a length, and won at Yarmouth by six lengths in June before being sidelined for the rest of his juvenile campaign.
Haggas, however, was non-committal about a Classic run at Newmarket on May 3.
He said: "I'm glad to get that out of the way, it's very hard to make an assessment on that race, so we will see. it wasn't a nice draw, but he was pretty flat-out at the end. At least he's had a run.
"Now I can train him properly anyway. That will bring him on a lot, I'm sure. We can get stuck into him now. I'm happy enough."
Hanagan said: "It was a bad draw, and he will come on an absolute ton for that. He was pricking his ears in front and he's still very green. He feels like a nice horse, but it's still early days."
Mike Murphy, trainer of the runner-up, was delighted with his charge commenting: "It was a great run from American Hope and I am really thrilled.
"I said that he would come on for his last race and you can see that he is still a frame of a horse. You would like to think that he would come on again and improve for the step up to a mile.
"We will take him back and see where we go with him. He enjoyed that and I thought that we were closing down on the winner, although I would have to see the race again. He's a proper horse and still a big baby."