Ebor Festival Eyecatchers
Spycatcher was the only maiden to line-up in the Acomb, and while retaining that maiden status he performed admirably well in defeat. Having raced a few lengths behind the leader through the early stages, he was briefly nudged along shortly before entering the straight. Angled furthest to the inside with three furlongs to go, he swiftly made headway travelling well to challenge for the lead two furlongs out. Put under stronger pressure entering the last furlong, he went just over a length clear but was challenged and passed by Gear Up late on and beaten half a length. The ease with which Spycatcher made his challenge was notable, and I think he can be equally adept over six furlongs as he is over seven in the short term. A maiden should be a formality if they wish to take that option before returning to Group races.
Makawee had disappointed a little in Listed company on her previous outing but bounced back with a good run in defeat in this two-mile handicap. Breaking from the widest stall, she was initially dropped out towards the back of the field before making a bit of headway to be three wide in midfield around the first bend. She dropped back slightly going down the back straight and was in eleventh turning into the straight. Pushed along with just over three furlongs to go, she stayed on towards the middle of the track and continued that headway under stronger pressure in the final furlong but couldn’t challenge the front pair and was beaten 2½ lengths into third. Those who raced prominently were clearly favoured in this staying handicap so Makawee’s run can be upgraded given the position that she came from. She can continue to be competitive in handicaps off this mark or back in Listed company.
This five-furlong handicap wasn’t as strongly run as might have been anticipated beforehand given the presence of Glamorous Anna in the field, and that was to the detriment of Our Little Pony’s chances. Bumped at the start by Pink Sands, she was switched to race down the middle of the track at the back of the field and was still there with a furlong to go. She ran on well in the last furlong into fourth, beaten 1¾ lengths. Our Little Pony did well to finish so close given the trouble at the start, and that this race wasn’t as strongly run as would have been ideal for her. She was racing off a 1lb higher mark than in the future and has been left on that reassessed rating of 82, a rating I think she can show herself to be better than when getting a suitable pace to close into.
Wings Of A Dove was sent off at 80-1 in the Lowther but ran far better for a long way than the market predicted, hitting an in-running low of 2.3. Slow starts had been an issue in her previous two starts but she was far quicker away on this occasion and soon at the front of the field. She travelled strongly in front and had many of her rivals under pressure when shaken up to go two lengths clear at halfway. Put under stronger pressure with two furlongs to go, she started to come back to the field and having been headed just over a furlong out, she faded quickly in the last half furlong to finish ten lengths behind the winner in ninth.
The much slicker start is a positive sign for Wings Of A Dove after her previous issues, and if that can be repeated back down in trip over five furlongs, I think she could be better than her rating of 88.
Amber Storm was racing from 3lb out of the handicap in this contest but she still made light work of the opposition and looks a fast-improving filly. Held up at the back of the field through the first three furlongs, she started to make some headway under gentle encouragement just over two furlongs out. That headway continued under hands and heels as she swept past the leading pair in the closing stages to win by 1¼ lengths. It is slightly worrying that Amber Storm clearly isn’t 100% straightforward, as she looks to edge left under pressure, but there’s also a lot of talent there. I think she will only be seen to better effect in big fields over this distance when she can get cover for as long as possible in well-run races.
Much of the focus after the Convivial was on the impressive victory of Naval Crown, but back in fourth Rich Dream shaped with promise on his debut. Slowly away from the stalls, he raced greenly at the back of the field early on, jumping the path in the process. In last place with three furlongs to go, he was shaken up and started to make a little headway while showing inexperience. That headway continued under a bit firmer pressure from two furlongs out, despite edging left and racing a bit awkwardly, and he ran on well to finish fourth beaten 5½ lengths. Considering how green he was this was a good effort from Rich Dream on his debut and I expect him to improve significantly from it.
Dalanijujo had run well in defeat on her previous two starts and did so once again in this handicap. She raced a bit keenly tracking the leader through the first half of the race and pulled clear of the rest of the field as part of a leading trio early in the straight. She travelled smoothly to challenge the leader two furlongs out, but once put under pressure her response wasn’t as strong as seemed likely, and she couldn’t match Angel Power in the closing stages, eventually finishing third. I think a drop back in trip would suit Dalanijujo as the likely quicker pace would increase her chance of settling in the early stages and the ease with which she travelled through this race suggests that would be no issue for her.
Monica Sheriff had been absent since winning the Group 3 Prix Belle de Nuit at Saint Cloud in October last year and returned with a fine effort in defeat in the Ebor. Restrained and angled over from her wide draw in stall 21 through the early stages, she raced about three quarters of the way back through the field and was still there when hampered slightly shortly before turning into the home straight. Pushed along and switched towards the middle of the track with just over two furlongs to go, she stayed on well to finish 4¼ lengths behind the winner in fourth. Monica Sheriff looked best suited last season by an extreme test of stamina and I’m not convinced the Ebor provided her with that. She holds an entry in the Group 1 Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend so that could be a possible option, along with the Cesarewitch.