Stay Alert stayed on strongly and delivered a decisive blow in the William Hill Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on Sunday.

With the six-strong line-up separating into two groups, David Egan was content to bide his time aboard Hughie Morrison’s five-year-old, as Heartache Tonight led from Running Lion on her side of the track.

Running Lion – seeking a win on this card for the second year running – moved up alongside Heartache Tonight and breezed to the front with half a mile to run and jockey Oisin Murphy seemed determined to break the spirits of her rivals as they entered the final quarter mile.

However, the petrol tank of 6/4 favourite ran out when meeting the rising ground with Stay Alert perfectly placed to take advantage, picking off Running Lion and galloping on to a three-and-a-half-length victory at odds of 5/1.

Morrison said: “We looked after her as a young horse and tried not to run her on fast ground as she’s quite heavy topped, but she’s always had a serious engine.

“The family has always stayed so we imagined she’d get a mile and a half, but I’d probably say a mile and a quarter is her perfect trip now.

“She was going to be retired, but Ben and Sir Martin (Arbib, owners) decided at the last minute they’d have another go. I actually said they ought to retire her because she’s such a beautiful broodmare prospect. I’m very sorry they aren’t here, but I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.

“David said he was always going to pick up the other filly (Running Lion), he just didn’t want to go for it in the dip. I said to him ‘if you’re in contention hitting the rising ground, you’ll win’.

“I suppose the obvious race to run in is the Pretty Polly (Curragh), in which we were a very unlucky second last year, but she does want decent ground.

“We’ll probably aim pretty high now, we’ll probably look at entering her in the Eclipse and races like that because if it’s soft in Ireland you probably want to go for the Eclipse.

“On her day she’s a very good horse and you’ve got to look at everything. I’m a great believed five-year-olds have an advantage over four-year-olds as they must improve.”