Fujaira Prince has had the Ebor Handicap on his agenda for quite some time. He contributed to a week where bookmakers took a real bashing from punters on the Ebor Festival at York.
First, Ghaiyyath took a classy renewal of the Juddmonte International and then Love landed the Yorkshire Oaks. With sprint king Battaash also toughing it out in the Nunthorpe Stakes, Fujaira Prince completed a festival for favourites.
Sent off the 11/2 market leader for trainer Roger Varian, the lightly-raced six-year-old grey raced prominently throughout the Ebor Handicap. While many rivals were held-up seeking cover, Fujaira Prince tracked the leaders disputing fourth.
When pushed along and ridden by jockey Andrea Atzeni two out, he came with a strong challenge approaching the final furlong. Fujaira Prince soon led and kept on well, holding the locally trained 25/1 shot Glencadam Glory by half-a-length.
The front two were 1 1/2 lengths clear of Nicky Henderson’s 9/1 mare Verdana Blue who ran a mighty race on unsuitable soft ground. Monica Sheriff for the William Haggas stable was fourth at 11/1.
Victory in the Ebor Handicap has earned Fujaira Prince a 33/1 quote with Unibet for the Melbourne Cup in Australia this November. After now winning two valuable staying handicaps this season, this could well be the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid owned gelding’s end of season target.
Analysis: Ebor Handicap to Melbourne Cup for fragile Fujaira Prince?
Jamie Clark, Horsebetting.com Editor
Favourite backers in the big races will have had a fantastic Ebor Festival. While there was no opposing Love or Battaash, Fujaira Prince was returned plenty short enough for a race like the Ebor Handicap.
There is no doubt that the bookies, thoroughly trounced by the Ebor weekday treble of Ghaiyyath et al, shortened up those prominent in the market for the big betting race on the final day of the meeting.
Fujaira Prince wasn’t anything like as impressive as his Copper Horse Handicap win at Royal Ascot, but still got the job done. The question is what now?
So lightly-raced for his age, he could easily make up for lost time and become a pattern performer. If only he were more robust, then something like the Irish St Leger next month would be interesting.
However, the Ebor Handicap was just his eighth career start. Fujaira Prince cannot have been easy for Varian to train and those Melbourne Cup odds with bookies reflect that.
Other targets worth considering
Whether connections send this popular grey Down Under for the race that stops a nation remains to be seen. The Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Tuesday, 3 November always has international representation.
Like the Ebor Handicap, six-year-olds do have a good recent record in Australia’s most famous race. Fujaira Prince fits the age profile of five of the last 10 Melbourne Cup winners.
It is an awfully long way to go with him, though, especially considering his fitness and the current climate. The fact that he handled cut in the ground at York makes me wonder whether trying the Long Distance Cup is worth a go.
That is a Group 2 contest over 2m and, in recent years, nothing like as hot the Melbourne Cup. Fujaira Prince needs tender handling, but Varian should get one more race out of him in the autumn.
With Stradivarius trying his luck in the Arc, the staying division has a more open feel to it. Wintering in the Middle East and making the fragile Fujaira Prince into a Dubai Gold Cup horse is another option.