Ross Millar shares his selections for this week's Sky Bet Ebor Festival, with a big-priced contender in today's finale catching his eye, plus has high hopes for a George Boughey-trained youngster.
This piece, more often than not, features an impressive, wide-margin winner; this week that is not the case.
Peace Of Mine, trained by George Boughey, caught my eye when winning on debut at Salisbury last Thursday. Partnered by William Buick, she broke on terms with the field and angled into a position on the rail just in behind the leaders.
She took longer than ideal to settle but eventually raced in a nice manner and, as the pace quickened, she found herself with nowhere to go, though still travelled nicely enough.
Eventually, Buick was able to shift her wide to get a clear run and, understandably, having made a fairly severe lateral move, she took a while to get organised when asked to quicken.
However, she demonstrated a smart piece of acceleration inside the final furlong to score by just over a length. Although the winning margin may not be something to get excited about, given how green she was, coupled with the trouble in running she experienced, means I’m inclined to mark this performance up considerably.
Boughey has enjoyed a fine start to his career and is clearly an exceptionally talented operator. His strike-rate with two-year olds has been lower this year, although he has said that the lack of rain has meant he’s been unable to work on the grass gallops as often as he’d like, which has meant some of his juveniles have lacked match practice.
Peace Of Mine is bred to stay further than seven furlongs as her dam, Aurora Butterfly, won over ten furlongs and was placed in a mile listed contest. While only a fair performer herself, she is from a smart family containing former French sire, Diamond Green.
Both Cachet and recent Group Three winner Oscula have shown how adept Boughey is at training his fillies to progress, and it would be no surprise to see Peace Of Mine to develop to Listed level or better in time.
She runs in the 6.15pm at Kempton tonight and concedes a penalty to the smart She’s Hot. That might look a difficult task on paper, but I’d be confident she’ll take a huge step forward from her debut and being by Fast Company could mean she’s slightly more comfortable on this easier surface.
The Tattersalls Acomb Stakes looks a competitive affair. While yet to find a standout two-year old colt, Godolphin have plenty of strength in depth, so Local Dynasty must be respected, though the form of his Newmarket win is yet to be tested.
Mill Stream ran Noble Style – who I rate highly – to within half a length at Newmarket last time and clearly has ability, although I question his stamina for seven furlongs, at this stage.
At a bigger price, I’ll be taking a chance on the Richard Hannon-trained Hectic. It’s unknown how strong the form of his debut win is, but I loved how professional he was there as he raced in a beautifully relaxed manner at the head of the field and found plenty when challenged inside the final half-furlong.
He should improve plenty for this extra furlong and, as I’ve mentioned in previous weeks, the majority of Richard Hannon’s two-year olds are taking a big step forward from their debut efforts.
Asking me to choose between Dramatised and Mawj – both of whom I’ve loved from day one – in Thursday’s Sky Bet Lowther Stakes is much like asking me to choose between my children (though five-year old Scarlett is in need of a strong week after decorating a bathroom with nail varnish) – both are a very tough ask.
However, I do find myself leaning more towards the Godolphin filly. She has proven form over six furlongs and the form of the Albany Stakes, which she finished second in, has been boosted with the fifth, Sydneyarms Chelsea, winning a Group Three at Deauville since.
Furthermore, Lezoo, who finished behind Mawj in the Duchess Of Cambridge at Newmarket, won a Group Three on her next start.
In contrast, Dramatised is yet to race over six furlongs, while the form of her win in the Queen Mary has taken repeated knocks with Maylandsea (second), Maria Branwell (third) and Miami Girl (fifth) all well beaten since.
I don’t believe the disparity in prices. With Dramatised a best-priced 11-10, and Mawj a best-priced 5-1, that does not accurately reflect their respective chances, so I’ll be backing Mawj, while still retaining my love for Dramatised!
I’m writing this before final declarations, but hopefully the current top two in the market - Royal Scotsman and Noble Style - stand their ground in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes.
I’d be confident that Noble Style is the better horse as he beat Royal Scotsman on debut, but if the Coles’ charge does run, he will ensure Charlie Appleby’s colt will be a backable price.
Noble Style went firmly onto my Royal Ascot shortlist following his impressive debut at Ascot where, in addition to Royal Scotsman, he had subsequent winners Walbank and Redemption Time in behind him.
Unfortunately, a small setback ruled him out of Royal Ascot before he returned with a victory at Newmarket in July.
The bare form could well be boosted after Wednesday’s Acomb Stakes, as the runner-up, Mill Stream is engaged there. Nevertheless, I was still hugely impressed by the manner in which Noble Style travelled through the race, looking a class above his rivals.
It’s true that when off the bridle, his finishing effort was mildly underwhelming, but it’s a possibility that, having had his setback, he wasn’t fully tuned up for that assignment. I’m certain he’ll be cherry ripe for this, and I expect him to win in style.
I nominated the Brian Ellison-trained Utilis as a ‘winner in waiting’ after what I considered a promising debut from the youngster at Doncaster where he raced keenly and failed to stay seven furlongs.
Dropped back to six furlongs on his next start, he again raced keenly to finish second by a neck (ouch!) when folding tamely in the closing stages.
His latest effort is best forgiven as he broke slowly, and awkwardly, and was never able to land a blow.
He runs in today’s six-furlong Sky Bet Nursery at York (5.20pm), and if the first-time hood can encourage him to race in a more efficient way, then a mark of 82 would seem reasonable given that he finished around a length behind the now 93-rated Courageous Knight on debut.
I’m confident we are yet to see the best from this son of Profitable and a best price of 33-1 has tempted me in once more.
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