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Fanshawe confident Ambiente Friendly can keep his Derby cool

Fanshawe confident Ambiente Friendly can keep his Derby cool
Fanshawe confident Ambiente Friendly can keep his Derby cool

James Fanshawe is confident Ambiente Friendly now has the maturity to shine on the biggest stage in the Betfred Derby at Epsom.

Having proved a cut above his rivals in a Leicester maiden last September, a step up in class for the following month’s Autumn Stakes at Newmarket appeared to come too soon for the Gleneagles colt, who was soundly beaten by Ancient Wisdom when finishing third.

He again raced freely early on when fourth in the Feilden Stakes on his three-year-old debut and pulled hard in the opening exchanges of the Lingfield Derby Trial.

However, Ambiente Friendly highlighted his huge potential by ultimately powering home to prevail by four and a half lengths ahead of a decent yardstick in Illinois, and Fanshawe naturally feels there is even more to come as his charge strengthens mentally and physically.

Epsom on Derby day is no place for the faint-hearted, with lots of hustle and bustle and a tricky pre-race parade to negotiate, but Fanshawe said: “Hopefully that won’t be too much of a problem.

“It’s the same for everyone and we’ll do everything we can to keep things nice and calm before the race, but he’s not a jig-joggy, hyper-horse.

“Freddy Tylicki picked him out. Bill (Gredley, owner) was picking nine horses for his 90th birthday at the Craven breeze-ups, he saw Freddy looking around and said to Freddy ‘go and find me a horse’.

“Freddy put this Gleneagles colt up to him and Bill bought him for 80,000 guineas. If he was going to be a Derby contender, he should have made a lot more than that, but he was an immature horse – he wasn’t a strong, two-year-old type, he was sort of an elegant, later-maturing type.”

Connections caused a bit of a stir when opting to bring in experienced jockey Robert Havlin to replace Callum Shepherd after that visually-impressive Lingfield strike, but everything else has gone smoothly so far.

“All I can say is Ambiente Friendly has done it and won his trial in a good time and seems to have come out of the race in good shape,” added Fanshawe.

Lingfield Park Races – Saturday 11th May
Ambiente Friendly finishes well clear at Lingfield (Steve Patson/PA).

“Over the winter and even since the Feilden Stakes, he has grown up a lot. He was a little bit fresh at Newmarket, but at Lingfield he went round a bend as good as any horse went round there.

“Of course there is a real buzz in the yard about having a Derby contender. There seems to be a real interest in Ambiente Friendly and that’s great.

“We’ve had plenty of Group One successes, but we haven’t had too many runners in the Classics. We’ve had a second in the 1000 Guineas with Spacious and Soviet Song wasn’t quite right when she was fourth, but the Derby is the Derby and a lot of things are judged on the result of it.”

Aidan O’Brien goes in search of a record-extending 10th Derby triumph and Ryan Moore joins the Ballydoyle maestro in keeping faith with City Of Troy ahead of fellow leading contender Los Angeles and stable outsider Euphoric.

Los Angeles landed the Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a juvenile and made it three wins from three starts when wearing down Euphoric at Leopardstown on his seasonal reappearance under Wayne Lordan, who keeps the ride.

Meanwhile, City Of Troy heads to Epsom with plenty to prove after being an odds-on disappointment in the 2000 Guineas, but O’Brien has blamed himself for that and both he and Moore will be hoping the much-vaunted son of Justify can recapture his sensational two-year-old sparkle.

Dubai Future Champions Festival 2023 – Newmarket Racecourse – Day Two
City Of Troy and Ryan Moore coming home to win the Dewhurst Stakes (Nigel French/PA).

Moore told Betfair: “Now, this is an open Derby, everyone can see that, though undoubtedly most of the focus will be on my horse. Perhaps understandably so, given how good he was last year and how he ran in the Guineas.

“We were clearly all a touch bemused by that performance at the time but hopefully Aidan has got him back to somewhere near his brilliant two-year-old best at home, and if he has then he will take all the beating.

“We always thought this trip would suit him at three but he has to go out and prove it now, and even more so after Newmarket. But there is only one place to find out, and we are here.”

Ancient Wisdom will bid to give Charlie Appleby and Godolphin a third blue riband success in seven years after backing up last season’s Futurity win at Doncaster with second place in the Dante at York behind Economics.

Appleby told the Godolphin website: “Ancient Wisdom has definitely come forward since the Dante and we know that stepping up to a mile and a half is going to suit, while we are hoping that ground conditions will be on our side as well. I feel we have the right horse to be competitive on the day.”

Roger Teal’s Dancing Gemini was fifth behind Ancient Wisdom on Town Moor in late October and earned his place in this line-up when a staying-on runner up to Metropolitan in the French 2,000 Guineas at ParisLongchamp.

The Ralph Beckett-trained Macduff made a respectable return to action when second in the Sandown Classic Trial to Arabian Crown, who misses out through injury, while Andrew Balding’s Bellum Justum proved he can handle this track via April’s Blue Riband Trial triumph.

Voyage was 28-1 when making a successful racecourse debut for Richard Hannon at Newbury in mid-April but has been well backed to emulate his sire Golden Horn by claiming Derby glory.

Owner Ahmad Al Shaikh has never been afraid to roll the dice with an outsider and was second with 50-1 chance Khalifa Sat in 2020 and 150-1 shot Hoo Ya Mal in 2022, so it would be no surprise to see his pair Deira Mile and Sayedaty Sadaty outrun their odds this term.

Al Shaikh said: “It’s the dream of any owner to have a runner in the Derby and I have two good ones.

Betfred Derby Festival Gallops Morning – Epsom Downs Racecourse
Jim Crowley aboard Deira Mile on the Derby gallops morning at Epsom (John Walton/PA).

“The dream for me started in 2006 because I work for the Maktoum family and I was always hearing about the Derby and their excitement about it. I don’t like short-distance horses, but I know how to choose horses for this kind of race.

“I was at Epsom when Deira Mile galloped and I was very happy with him. Jim (Crowley) was particularly pleased and everyone has been very happy with him since.

“Sayedaty Sadaty was second at Newmarket in the same Listed race as Hoo Ya Mal was second in. We’ve been planning for the Derby for both of these horses since last June, and we’ve planned the Hoo Ya Mal route for Sayedaty Sadaty since March.”

Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing silks were carried to second place by outsiders Mojo Star and King Of Steel in two of the last three renewals and he has Ballysax Stakes winner Dallas Star involved this time, alongside Mr Hampstead.

Abdulla Al Mansoori is another owner doubly represented after supplementing Tabletalk to join Kamboo, with John and Thady Gosden’s God’s Window completing the field.

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