It’s been a fantastic Ebor Festival so far, and Friday promises more of the same.
Among my tips for Day 3 is an Ollie Sangster-trained juvenile who’s taken to back up an extremely promising debut in the card’s penultimate contest.
2.25 – Courage Mon Ami @ 3/1
The Lonsdale Cup sees Quickthorn, Coltrane and Courage Mon Ami renew rivalries following the controversial Goodwood Cup earlier this month.
Surely Oisin Murphy (Coltrane) and Frankie Dettori (Courage Mon Ami) won’t allow Tom Marquand and Quickthorn another freebie from the front… right?
Ignoring the questionable rides in behind, I actually thought Courage Mon Ami was the one to take from the chasing pack that day. While Coltrane was always closest to the runaway winner, the selection was much further back and, up until a point, was travelling really well.
Hopefully he’ll be ridden closer to the pace on Friday afternoon and, back on more suited quick ground, the Ascot Gold Cup hero can continue his rapid progression.
4.45 – Kings Valley @ 7/2
Ollie Sangster has taken to the training ranks like a duck to water – especially when it comes to juveniles. He’s ran 20 two-year-olds during his career so far, with five winners (25% strike rate) and a further four placing.
Kings Valley – a son of increasingly-popular sire Territories – went straight into my tracker when finishing a highly-promising third behind subsequent Listed winner Arabian Crown, who has earned an official rating of 105, at Sandown late last month.
He can be forgiven for getting a little tired late on given it was his racecourse debut on soft ground at one of the most testing tracks in the country. Before that, dare I say he was travelling as well as anything.
I expect him to strip significantly fitter and sharper for that experience, which could make him hard to beat in what doesn’t look the strongest maiden relative to when/where it’s being held.
5.15 – English Oak @ 4/1
The market for this 0-105 Heritage Handicap for three-year-olds is dominated by a few lightly-raced types for top connections.
Enfjaar is one of them and he has to be taken very seriously on the strength of the first two of his three runs to date. However, I don’t like backing horses who disappointed last time out so I’m happy to leave him.
I’d rate Tafreej, who sports the same silks of Shadwell Racing, a bigger threat – while Modesty has to be considered as his form ties in very closely with English Oak, who must be my final selection for Day 3.
He’s been given an opening mark of 90, which I’m inclined to say is on the lenient side based on the form of his novice win at Thirsk in early July and his subsequent effort at Newmarket.
He was far from straightforward the last day, taking a keen hold before struggling for room at the business end of the race. He had to settle for third in the end, but was only beaten by just over a length in a strong event.
I see no reason why this son of Wootton Bassett can’t improve again – and the first-time booking of Ryan Moore suggests he’s ready to strike.