One of last season's outstanding juveniles, the Charlie Appleby-trained Noble Style has lost his way in 2023 and has a reputation to try and restore.
Noble Style went unbeaten as a two-year-old, culminating in success in York's Gimcrack, but it has so far proved a very different story this season.
His Classic ambitions were short-lived and he has been unable to put his head in front in four starts.
Noble Style is a son of Kingman and the Godolphin-owned inmate made a really strong impression in his three-race juvenile season.
He began at Ascot over five furlongs in May and defeated Walbank in good style, before readily defeating fellow penalised winner Mill Stream at Newmarket in late July in his follow-up.
From there, Appleby took dead aim at York's Gimcrack.
A patient ride from William Buick was rewarded as Noble Style did his best work in the closing stages after briefly looking outpaced.
He got up in the end by a length-and-a-quarter to defeat subsequent Group-race winning sprinters Marshman and Cold Case in authoritative fashion.
Plans to return in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury were aborted late on and it meant that Noble Style turned up at Newmarket a fresh horse in the 2000 Guineas as he tackled a mile for the first time in the opening Classic of the year.
There was a hint of caution from his trainer in the run-up to that assignment as he said of the 525,000 gns purchase: "He's three from three and is a profile horse, but in his work he has a peacocky head carriage, which we've tried to drop through the winter."
At Headquarters, there were definite signs that perhaps he didn't see out the mile distance at elite level as he finished sixth in the 2000 Guineas won by Chaldean.
Connections would soon opt for a drop in trip for the Listed Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury (6f, good) a fortnight later but, despite an SP of 8/11, Noble Style was only able to finish third.
As it turned out, he was bumping into a high-class sprinter there in Shaquille, with the Julie Camacho-trained runner going on to win successive Group 1s via the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and July Cup at Newmarket.
Noble Style of course would take on Shaquille again at Royal Ascot in June but, in a pair of first-time cheekpieces, James Doyle's partner was a weakening ninth of 13 in the Group 1 sprint for three-year-olds, beaten the best part of eight lengths as his disappointing season continued.
He was given a short break thereafter and was next spotted at Chester in early August, contesting the Listed Queensferry Stakes over the six-furlong trip on soft ground.
A drop in class was expected to see him back on the up – and Noble Style was rated best in that Roodee contest by upwards of 5lb - but once more it was a laboured effort in finishing fourth of six as Mitbaahy and Fast Response scrapped it out up front.
He certainly appears to have encountered a transitional season but Appleby will still be hoping he can make a return to the immense promise shown last summer if and when the now gelded son of Kingman is back on the racecourse.