The opening European Breeders’ Fund Maiden Stakes (5.00) at Ffos Las on Thursday is difficult to assess insofar as four of the nine runners are unraced and three have raced just once. However, Gracious John ran a race full of promise on his racecourse debut under apprentice Phillip Prince at Lingfield twelve days ago and looks one to follow.
The son of Baltic King blew the start and was denied a clear run in the closing stages, but still finished third, beaten a short head and three-quarters of a length and was, undoubtedly, an unlucky loser. He remains open to significant improvement and, indeed, may benefit from the stronger handling of senior jockey Steve Drowne.
Steve Drowne has had to work extremely hard to re-establish himself after a year on the sidelines through ill health, but he remains the leading jockey at the Gwendraeth Valley track, with 14 winners from 61 rides, at a strike rate of 23%. He’s also ridden both of David Evans’ juvenile winners at Ffos Las this season, so his booking is definitely a positive. The 3/1 on offer from Bet365 in the early price lists looks more than fair.
Selection: 5.00 Ffos Las Gracious John (3/1 with Bet365) to win