Fujaira Prince

Fuijaira Prince winning the Ebor Handicap (Image: York Racecourse)

Fujaira Prince wins Ebor Handicap

BY SPORTING LIFE, UK

Race favourite Fujaira Prince has come out on top in the £250,000 Ebor at York.

Roger Varian's charge was racing for the first time since winning at Royal Ascot and saw his race out well under Andrea Atzeni to land Europe's richest handicap by a length. 

Glencadam Glory ran a fantastic race in second, making much of the running and then rallying strongly when headed by the winner.

Verdana Blue and Monica Sheriff both finished well to fill the minor placings but the front two had the race between themselves inside the distance.

Scarlet Dragon weakened out of the places having looked a huge threat when travelling strongly passing the two furlong pole.

Atzeni stressed that great credit must go to Varian for readying Fujaira Prince to win two such competitive handicaps on just the sixth and seventh starts of his career.

“It’s a brilliant training performance to keep him sound,” he said. “He’s obviously had his issues, and is very lightly-raced. We hope he can stay sound, and we can have a lot of fun with him.

“That was always the plan after Ascot. He was very impressive that day, after having a year off.

“We came into this race very hopeful. (But) it was testing, obviously soft ground and hard work – (so) we didn’t go mad. But he travelled nicely, and galloped all the way to the line.”

Atzeni does not yet appear convinced, however, that Fujaira Prince should head for the Lexus Melbourne Cup in November having won a race which is considered a stepping stone to that event.

“The Melbourne Cup, I know it’s two miles – but you need a horse with speed, and is probably a mile-and-a-half horse really,” he added.

“This fella is just an out-and-out galloper, he doesn’t do anything fast. Whether he’s got that early tactical speed for a Melbourne Cup, I don’t know.

“But it’s not for me to decide. I’m sure all three of us (owner, trainer and jockey) will make that decision.”

Varian said from his Newmarket base: “He is a wonderful horse and I really am grateful to Sheikh Mohammed Obaid because he has been incredibly patient with a horse who has been very delicate to train. When he gives us days like this and the one at Royal Ascot, he is worth every bit of the patience.

“I’m also grateful to the team. This horse has needed nursing and wrapping up. Without the team’s hard work he wouldn’t have achieved what he has this year.

“The expression ‘made of glass’ would really apply to this guy. We space his races out and the biggest number of races he has ever had in a season is the three he had last year. We’ll try to match that this year, but I’m not sure if he is a Melbourne Cup horse.

“We obviously like the idea, and we’ll see what Sheikh Mohammed Obaid wants to do, but I think we could freshen him up and maybe look at the stayers’ race on Champions Day. Having said that, you can’t take anything for granted with this horse.”

Tim Easterby, meanwhile, was proud of the runner-up’s effort in defeat.

He said: “He’s run a hell of a race. We’ve been waiting for this all year and then we were a bit windy about whether we were going to get in or not. We were lucky to get in and he’s run great. We’ll look to come back for this again next year.”