Irv Naylor and Cyril Murphy topped their three-win day at Far HIlls when Ebanour rallied in the waning strides to nail Schoolhouse Woods in the New Jersey Hunt Cup. The timber stakes attracted a full field of 11 and Gus Dahl rated Ebanour last, well off the pace set by Naylor’s Tax Ruling before gradually working into the race from the outside.
The Irish-bred 8-year-old moved into third at the bottom of the hill, tracking Schoolhouse Woods and Tax Ruling. Favorite Cornhusker tried to slip through on the inside, but slipped out of a four-way Dagwood inside Delta Park, Schoolhouse Woods and Tax Ruling. Avoiding that melee, Ebanour continued wide but still had ground to salvage at the last as Schoolhouse Woods spurted clear. Ebanour finally reeled in Schoolhouse Woods and held off a re-rallying Tax Ruling.
“Our intention was to get him to relax, Cyril wasn’t sure he wanted the three and a quarter (miles) so we thought if we dropped him out the back and hunted him around, he would handle the trip. It worked out because nobody got a clear run up the inside,” Dahl said. “He threw it into sixth gear at the last and landed running, he just had that extra bit to stay on.”
Dahl picked up the ride on the way home from the Virginia Fall races a week earlier.
“Cyril was on the phone with Ross Geraghty about Inti running in the flat race at Middleburg and Cyril said, ‘Put me on the phone with Gus.’ You couldn’t ask for a better pick-up ride,” Dahl said. “I had schooled him earlier in the week, he’s a type of horse that you need to leave alone and squeeze, I definitely benefitted from going over to school him.”
One of two winners on the card bred by His Highness the Aga Khan’s Studs, Ebanour is a half-brother to three black-type runners, including £241,089 winner Eyshal. Ebanour failed to make it to the races for his breeder and trainer John Oxx, and was consigned to Doncaster November Yearlings and Horses in Training Sale in 2010. Without a race record, the son of Indian Ridge was still enticing, earning a final bid of £120,000 from British jump trainer Donald McCain.
Three months later, he won his debut in a bumper at Wetherby. He followed that victory with two wins from eight starts over hurdles and was swept into Naylor’s wide net after finishing seventh in a Southwell hurdle race in July 2012. Two months later, Brianne Slater unveiled Ebanour for the William Entenmann Novice Stakes where he finished fifth to future Grade 1 stakes winners Gustavian and Alajmal. After a disappointing run when fifth behind Cuse at Virginia Fall, Slater switched the solid chestnut to timber where he finished second to Nationbuilder at Callaway Gardens. The next spring, he beat future Maryland Hunt Cup winner Raven’s Choice at My Lady’s Manor and finished third at Winterthur.
This spring, Ebanour brushed off a two-year layoff to finish second to Snow Blizzard at the Manor. The New Jersey Hunt Cup was his first start this fall.
Watch the New Jersey Hunt Cup here: