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Trainer William Muir is on the trail of a £250,000 pay day for the second year running following the victory of Just Nick at Newbury today.

That amount is the bonus on offer to any horse which wins two qualifiers in the Mail On Sunday Mile series and the final at Ascot in September.

And now Just Nick, who added today's qualifier to the one he took at Goodwood two weeks previously, is following the example set by his stable companion Naviasky last year.

Rain ruined Naviasky's chance in the final, but that would not be a problem for Just Nick, who was also untroubled by today's faster surface, easing home under Paul Doe by one and three quarter lengths from Bound For Pleasure.

But as Muir revealed, it could easily have been someone else who was within one win of the bonus, as he nearly ran Just Nick in an earlier division of the Brighton claimer last September in which he lost Tayseer to David Nicholls.

Muir said: 'This horse was very sick last year and at one stage we thought we'd get his confidence back.

'But if we'd have run him in that claimer we'd have lost him and someone else would now look a great trainer for improving him out of sight.

'But he's come back to himself and now he's got a chance of winning the money.'

Muir does not intend wrapping Just Nick in cotton wool until late September and added: 'You've got to go and try to win your races. You might not win the final. But to win the bonus would be great.'

Ekraar, fourth in the French 2000 Guineas in May, gave Marcus Tregoning's stricken stable its belated first winner of the year when making all the running under Willie Supple in the Newbury Show 2000 Conditions Stakes.

Ekraar, whose previous win had come in the Group Three Champagne Lanson Vintage Stakes at Goodwood last July, shook off the attentions of the odds-on Bien Entendu two furlongs out and sauntered home five lengths clear of Peacock Jewel.

Tregoning had been forced to shut his stable in an attempt to improve his team's health.

He said: 'They have all had a virus problem and you've got to give them time.

'We took the decision to stop everything for two months and I think we have done the right thing as they seem to be coming back pretty well now.'

The trainer has a number of options for Ekraar, including the Juddmonte International at York next month.

He said: 'I said to Willie there's no point hanging about. We really want to find out big time if he stays for the rest of his season.

'He's in races over this trip and further and we will have to think about things. He goes on any ground and he's a damned nice horse to have.'

Bien Entendu, Henry Cecil's one-time Vodafone Derby fancy, was another two and a half lengths behind in third and Harry Dunlop, representing Cecil, said: 'That was a bit disappointing. No excuses. He just didn't seem to pick up.

'We'll just have to have him checked out when he gets home.'

Toby Balding, a trainer not known for handling precocious two-year-olds, was not entertaining an angel unawares when he introduced Swing Band, who landed the Newbury EBF Maiden Stakes at 12-1 under Alan Daly.

Balding said: 'I have had first time out winners in my turn but I haven't had my turn in a while.

'Having won a maiden he will be a bit difficult to place but he's a horse who has always shown us something and he will improve.'

Knockholt, whose trainer Sean Woods hopes may eventually be rated high enough to merit an entry in the Melbourne Cup, opened his account for the season in the Savernake Mercedes Benz Handicap, beating Kinnescash by a neck under a determined ride from Richard Hughes.

Stable companions Awake and Kayo were separated by a short head when giving trainer Mark Johnston a one-two in the Robinson Keane rated stakes.-PA