Postponed could bring relief after a difficult few weeks for his trainer
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Mark Scully 11:00AM 15 AUG 2016
POSTPONED heads a field of 13 runners set to contest Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes at York as he bids to bounce back from a respiratory infection that saw him miss the King George at Ascot.
The five-year-old was the odds-on favourite for Ascot’s mid-summer showpiece prior to the setback, which has affected a number of trainer Roger Varian’s string in recent weeks.
Varian has sent out only ten runners so far this month, compared to 68 last August but he is confident Postponed is over his infection.
“Half the battle is recognising it and not doing too much with the horses if they are slightly under the weather,” Varian said. “We’ve been cautious with what we have run but we managed to get a nice winner at Doncaster on Saturday and hopefully we are close to hitting form again.
“It’s challenging but hopefully Postponed can give us a boost. He’s been training well over the last few weeks, looks great and seems right back to himself.
“Horses are no different to people in that one person might take longer to get over an illness than another living next door. Postponed is a big five-year-old with a good constitution and he looks to have recovered quicker than some.
“He’s in his prime and one of the best around. It was disappointing to miss the King George but by no means the end of the world and we are looking forward to running him in the Juddmonte International.”
Postponed is a top price of 13-8 with Sky Bet to win Wednesday’s feature contest, which has a total prize fund of £900,000.
No concerns over trip
Postponed has yet to record a victory over the Juddmonte International’s 1m2f distance but Varian feels the horse has the speed to prove effective down in trip.
“This year he has travelled very strongly in his races and, most importantly, Andrea [Atzeni], who gets a number one feel of the horse, thinks he will handle himself down in trip very comfortably.
“Also, the majority of the horses in the field have perhaps shown their best level of form at a mile and a half, so he is not the only one with it to prove at a mile and a quarter.
“We wanted to try and win a Group 1 over ten furlongs with him and York was always top of the list. The Eclipse would have come a bit close to the King George, so the Juddmonte was always the ten-furlong race we were keen to have a go in.”
Strong field in opposition
Postponed is one of five Group 1 winners in the field.
King George winner Highland Reel is set to take his chance, while Godolphin’s Eclipse hero Hawkbill has been supplemented in a bid to continue the excellent record of three-year-olds against their elders in Group 1s this year.
The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes winner My Dream Boat was also been declared, along with veteran The Grey Gatsby, who will pick up a new partner this week in Danny Tudhope with most recent rider Jamie Spencer booked for the mount on Arab Spring.
Derby runner-up US Army Ranger was the only absentee at Monday’s declaration stage.
St Leger trial
The chief supporting contest on Wednesday’s card is the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes, a 1m4f race for three-year-olds which was won by Postponed two seasons ago.
Regarded as a key trial for the St Leger, the last horse to win the Great Voltigeur and follow up in the final Classic of the season was Lucarno in 2007. However, current St Leger favourite Idaho will be tasked with doing the double as the dual Classic-placed colt heads six entries at York.
Idaho’s trainer Aidan O’Brien is also responsible for Housesofparliament and The Major General, while Harrison, Imperial Aviator and King Edward VII Stakes winner Across The Stars complete the line-up.