Roger Varian stable tour
With four individual Group 1 winners, Roger Varian enjoyed a successful 2014 campaign in which he landed his first domestic Classic. Each of that quartet returns this season – notably St Leger winner Kingston Hill, who may recover from injury in time to tackle the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Similarly, Cursory Glance, winner of the Moyglare Stud Stakes, was ruled out of the Qipco 1,000 Guineas but is on schedule to return in the Coronation Stakes. Dewhurst Stakes winner Belardo is on course for Saturday’s Greenham prior to the 2,000 Guineas, while Criterium International winner Vert De Grece has the French 2,000 Guineas and French Derby on his agenda.
Varian feels he has a well-balanced string, with a potentially exciting three-year-old mix of proven and dark horses. “In terms of health and condition, I couldn’t be happier with the horses,” he says. “There will be a good few who will need their first run, especially the maidens on the better tracks. The ones who win first time out will do so on class more than fitness.”
Varian is renowned for bringing horses on gradually. September has been his most productive month in two of his four seasons with a licence. Any first-time-out two-year-old winner should be noted, since most of them need a run. His career strike-rate in juvenile Group races stands at a healthy 24 per cent. Among racecourses frequented regularly, the stable’s strike-rate is well above average at Bath (31%), Doncaster (23%), Haydock (28%) and Windsor (29%), while Varian’s runners have struggled at Goodwood (2%), Newmarket’s July course (7%) and Pontefract (6%).
Yard: Kremlin House Stables
Finest hour: “Winning last year’s St Leger with Kingston Hill. I thought winning my first Group 1 with Nahrain would be hard to beat but there are only five domestic Classics each year.”
Assistant trainer: Mike Marshall
Senior head lad/lass: Jimmy Thompson/Joanne Fowles
Jockeys: Andrea Atzeni, Graham Lee, Freddy Tylicki
4yo Mastercraftsman – Audacieuse
The setback he had is disappointing but we have every confidence he’ll return in the second half of the season. He struck into himself and had a superficial injury with some trauma around the wound, but structurally he’s 100 per cent. Otherwise he has blossomed in every way. He may be a St Leger winner but he can come back to 1m2f and 1m4f. The Arc will again be his objective and I believe he’ll be one of the best in Europe. I’d have no hesitation running him on good to firm but he’ll be better with ease in the ground, which he never got last year. We might get him back for the King George, although it would be tough without a prep race. There’s a lot to look forward to.
3yo Galileo – Pearling
He was second in a good Doncaster maiden to Commemorative, who’d had a run and went on to win the Group 3 Autumn Stakes. He was very green that day and flew home, and I thought he showed himself to be a decent prospect. He’ll be ready to start by the end of the month and I hope to take in a Derby trial after that. He is certainly a 1m2f horse who I’m hoping will stay 1m4f. I do like him.
Six-year-old horse by Dubawi – Kelly Nicole
I didn’t think I quite got him right last year, when I was bullish about bringing him back to sprint distances. He likes to come with a late rattle, and with that in mind I think it’s going to be very hard to nail a top sprint, so I plan to go back up to 7f and a mile. I have the Lockinge and Queen Anne in mind; two years ago he was third and second in those races and I see nothing in his homework to suggest he’s not up to that level.
4yo Dalakhani – Sweet Firebird
He was ambitiously campaigned last year and it was tough for him, especially as he didn’t run at two. I do think a lot of him but we’ll look to start at a realistic level and try to build up. He is training very well and likes a bit of ease in the ground. We’ll start at 1m2f but I reckon he’ll stay 1m4f. He might be ready in time for the Gordon Richards Stakes.
4yo Galileo – Gino’s Spirits
He won two good handicaps last year and I think there’s another one in him off his current mark. On his final start it was rough early and he ran like a horse who was over the top. His best trip is 1m4f but he might stay further and could well be an Ebor type. He’s a very good-actioned horse who wouldn’t want it any softer than good. I haven’t done masses with him but physically he’s improved from three to four. We’ll probably start him off in a 1m2f handicap at the Dante meeting and look at the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot, which is a track he likes.
4yo Pivotal – Graduation
He ran poorly in the Spring Mile but he was too fresh. He needed it and it was rough mid-race. I hope he’ll make up into a progressive handicapper but he does want soft ground. A mile is his trip.
8yo Oratorio – True Joy
He usually bags a nice race every year and I see nothing from his work to suggest he won’t do the same again. He’s at his best over 7f on good to soft ground, but he ran a pretty smart race in the British Champions Sprint over 6f, where he was stuck out in the middle of the track on bad ground. He could start off in the King Richard III Stakes at Leicester, which he won last year. If not, he could pop up off top weight in the Victoria Cup.
4yo Teofilo – Changeable
He’s a progressive horse with decent form who’ll be running in handicaps. He wants top of the ground and, while we’ll start him off at 1m2f, he’ll want 1m4f. He wouldn’t be ready until May and takes a fair bit of getting fit.
6yo Oasis Dream – Loulwa
He’s a good sprinter who hasn’t often had the rub of the green. I ran him terribly wrong at the weights at Nottingham last week and wasn’t disappointed when he finished sixth of seven. He’s a stuffy horse and I was keen to get that run into him ahead of the Palace House Stakes on May 2, in which he ran well on his reappearance last year. He’ll have another go at that race, he’s best on good or good to firm and over 5f, although he has run some nice races over 6f.
5yo Pivotal – Aiming
She’s been stakes-placed four times, including in the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville, so the priority is to win a stakes race. I’d be hopeful she’s better this year than last, but she must have easy ground. She stays 1m2f well and might even stay 1m4f. We’ll wait for her ground before running anywhere.
7g Verglas – Killinallan
I still think he’s best at 5f but he’ll possibly try 6f more often this year. He’s a character who likes big fields so he can come through horses late on, and he was a bit unlucky last year because he kept getting drawn on the outside and those tactics didn’t work out. We’ll start him in the Class 2 handicap at Newbury later this week.
4yo Montjeu – Three Owls
He had a couple of problems as a young horse but he’s won his last two on the all-weather and will stay all day. We’ll try him on the grass and start him in a 2m handicap at Newbury on Friday. He probably wouldn’t want the ground too soft.
4yo Cape Cross – Aryaamm
She’s a big filly who I’ve always thought a lot of. She looks stronger now and is the type to be better at four. I have the Middleton Stakes at York in mind for her; it’s just a question of whether we have a run beforehand. She wouldn’t want extremes of ground and I didn’t think she stayed 1m4f in the Ribblesdale Stakes. Ten furlongs at a galloping track is her game.
Danehill Dancer – American Adventure
He’s a very straightforward horse with an attitude to die for. We’ll start him over a mile but he might stay further. He’s pretty versatile groundwise, but he wouldn’t want it too soft. He’s not far off being ready to go.
Lope De Vega – Danaskaya
He’s just a dream of a horse who is massively talented. He came up the hill well when he won the Dewhurst Stakes and I think he’s hugely overpriced for the 2,000 Guineas. I’ve been delighted with him so far and we’ll start him off in the Greenham. He’s fit enough to run a race but he’ll improve, and we’ll go to Newmarket after that. He has a lot of speed. We were disappointed he didn’t win the Champagne Stakes, but that was a messy race and we probably had him too fresh. His Dewhurst win didn’t surprise us and I hope he will cement himself as one of the better three-year-olds. He’s versatile groundwise, although I wouldn’t want to run him on very fast ground. He’s such a good-moving horse, and so well balanced, that he can cope with most things.
Distorted Humor – Time Control
She had a fetlock injury in the winter and misses the 1,000 Guineas, which is a shame because she looked top-drawer last season. She won the Moyglare quite cosily, pulling herself up near the line, but she’ll be back for the Coronation Stakes, for which I don’t think she’ll have a prep. She’s best on top of the ground and could handle other surfaces but she wouldn’t want it too soft. She has speed and I think a mile will be her trip.
Dynaformer – Torrestrella
He works like a decent prospect and is full of potential. He’ll start in a 1m maiden at Newbury this weekend and we’ll see how he goes. He wouldn’t want it too soft, and although he’s by Dynaformer he doesn’t lack pace. I would think he’ll get 1m2f.
Rip Van Winkle – Vas Y Carla
He will stay 1m4f but we’ll start off in the Julian Wilson Memorial Maiden over 1m2f at Newmarket tomorrow. He’ll likely need that run and I expect him to progress through the year.
Mastercraftsman – Chanter
He’s a very likeable colt in body and attitude, but he’s still a bit green. I expect he’ll need a run but is another who should progress through the year. He’ll stay 1m2f in time.
Kyllachy – Naizak
I love seeing horses progress and he improved with each start. He’s very laid-back at home, he keeps a bit up his sleeve, but he got better with racing and should keep improving. He’ll stay a mile and will need a bit of cut in the ground. He might start in the Class 3 handicap at Newbury on Saturday, but will likely need the run as he’s lazy.
Distorted Humor – Life Well Lived
He’s a very likeable horse who has definitely got some talent. He won his maiden well when there was cut in the ground, but he’s a big, strong horse and light on his feet, so he’ll definitely want good ground. He has wintered well and is ready to go. I quite like him.
Exceed And Excel – Gimasha
The form of her third start is decent. She’s got better and stronger over the winter and she’s one for the fillies’ sprint handicaps in the summer. She wants fast ground. She won’t be ready to go before the middle of May.
Iffraaj – Tarfshi
I thought she was unlucky on her debut, which was a decent race. She was a bit green and stuck on the wing of her field. I felt if she’d been between horses she might have won, but she certainly has potential. She carries a bit of temperament which I hope won’t hold her back. If it doesn’t, she has lots of potential. I think a mile will be her trip but she’s won’t be ready to go until May.
Clodovil – Lisieux Orchid
She didn’t warrant an entry in the English or French Guineas on what she did last year, but she’s definitely stakes class. She has shown an aptitude to take a journey, having run well twice in France last season, so I may point her towards the German 1,000 Guineas, in which she’s likely to get cut in the ground.
Vert De Grece
Verglas – Tiny Petal
He almost chased down Gleneagles in the Futurity before he came to me. I then sent him to the Criterium International in France, when he blew me away with the way he won. You could probably pick the form apart but he was going away at the line. He won’t have a run before the French 2,000 Guineas but I’m sure he’ll be better at 1m2½f in the French Derby. I haven’t put him under pressure at home but he’s shown me enough to believe he has trained on. He’s strong and straightforward.
Azamour – Epiphany
She’ll probably start off in a handicap but she could well improve. She’s not particularly forward so wouldn’t be out until next month, when we’ll find a fillies’ handicap for her. She’ll stay a mile, possibly further, and I quite like her.
We have a lovely spread of two-year-olds this year, a good mix of sharp types and ones for later in the season. Of the sharper sorts, there’s First Rate (c Kyllachy – Hooray), who is a likeable sort. Then there’s Gwendolyn (Invincible Spirit – Golden Whip), who moves nicely. Among those for later in the year is Aghaany (Dubawi – Hathrah), who takes the eye. There’s Alquffaal (Dansili – Cuis Ghaire) and another in that vein is an unnamed colt (Sea The Stars – Evensong), who has a lot of quality. I’m encouraged by the way this one does things, and we’re only in mid-April. And there’s Karakoz (Danehill Dancer – Card Shop), a half-sister to Prestige Stakes winner Ollie Olga.