An ambitious plan came to fruition for the Roger Varian stable at York on Saturday as Fujaira Prince justified favouritism to land the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap.
The lightly raced six-year-old had been earmarked for the York showpiece by Varian after defying a lengthy absence to win the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot. Making his first start since then and strongly fancied at 11/2, Fujaira Prince was always in a handy position under Andrea Atzeni and after making smooth headway to join the leader Glencadam, stayed on well to win by a hard fought half-length.
Glencadam ran a brave race to finish second at 25/1 for Tim Easterby, a length-and-a-half ahead of the third, Verdana Blue.
In the process, Fujaira Prince became the first favourite to oblige in the Ebor since Purple Moon in 2007.
“That was very smooth,” Atzeni told ITV Racing. “He jumped nicely and the plan was always to go forward and get a good position, which we did. We went a nice even pace, he travelled beautifully and stayed on all the way to the line.
“He’s a very willing partner, you can put him anywhere in the race and that makes my job a bit easier. It’s a very good training performance. Don’t forget he hadn’t run for a year before Ascot. He won so nicely that day and the plan then after that was the Ebor. It’s great for everyone involved.”
Fujaira Prince was cut into 20/1 (from 40/1) by Betfair Sportsbook for the Melbourne Cup.
A son of Pivotal, Fujaira Prince was bred by Rabbah Bloodstock out of Zam Zoom, whose earlier foals include the top-class hurdler Nichols Canyon and Listed-placed Bright Approach.
City Of York Stakes in safe keeping
Safe Voyage made every yard a winning one in the Sky Bet City Of York Stakes to run out an emphatic winner of the Group 2 event.
John Quinn’s likeable seven-year-old settled sweetly in front for Jason Hart and had plenty in reserve to repel the challenge of One Master to win by three-and-a-half lengths.
“When he get his ground conditions, he’s different class,” Hart told ITV Racing. “He stays the 7f very well. I’m delighted. Hopefully the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes will be an end of season target.”
Safe Voyage ran third to King Of Change in last year’s renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The gelding is one of 18 stakes winners by the late Darley stallion Fast Company. He was a £52,000 yearling purchase by Richard Knight and John Quinn out of the Goffs UK Premier Sale and is out of the Listed-placed Shishangaan, a Mujadil relation to high-class sprint two-year-old Superlative.