Postponed was an easy winner of the Coronation Cup
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Jon Lees 8:01PM 19 JUL 2016
ROGER VARIAN is taking nothing for granted despite Postponed’s red-hot favourite status for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the trainer saying on Tuesday that his stable star will have to be at the top of his form to extend his unbeaten sequence to six races at Ascot on Saturday.
The 1-2 favourite’s winning streak started in last year’s Qipco-backed King George before adding the Prix Foy – both while still trained by Luca Cumani. He has won the Dubai City of Gold, Sheema Classic and Coronation Cup since owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum sent him across Newmarket to Varian’s.
Second-favourite Dartmouth was popular with punters on Tuesday, being cut into 5-1 (from 6) by several firms, while Highland Reel, Wings Of Desire and Erupt are also set to oppose Postponed in the £1.15 million contest.
“You can’t go into these races not respecting the opposition,” Varian said. “They haven’t achieved what he has achieved yet but they are good horses, trained by excellent trainers. He will have to be on his game. I don’t think at this level you can afford an off-day.”
Varian, however, is understandably hopeful that if Postponed does put his best foot forward it will be good enough, as he also looked beyond this weekend to other potential big-race targets.
On the horizon for Postponed is the Juddmonte International over an extended mile and a quarter, with the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and possibly Breeders’ Cup Turf to follow. His owner, meanwhile, has already revealed his enthusiasm for another crack at the Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup day next year.
Varian, speaking at a media event in London, said: “The King George is an important race and it’s going to be an achievement if he can win it twice. We’re excited about running him, being involved with the favourite is very exciting.
“We’d like to see if he could win a Group 1 over ten furlongs and the race at York would be the obvious race to try to do that. It would be exciting to drop him back and clash with some of those mile-and-a-quarter horses.
“The Arc and Breeders’ Cup Turf is a tentative schedule and we’ll take one race as it comes, starting on Saturday.”
‘Postponed is the best horse I have worked with’
As assistant to the late Michael Jarvis for ten years before succeeding his mentor in 2011, Varian has been around some serious horses, but he described Postponed as “the horse of a lifetime”.
He said: “Postponed probably is the best horse I have been involved with. Rakti [trained by Jarvis to win the Champion, Prince of Wales’s and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes] on his day was probably unbeatable. If he could contain that explosive energy he was an exceptionally talented horse, but he didn’t quite have the temperament or level of consistency to mark himself as a great.
“In the years associated with Michael Jarvis and the years I have trained I think Postponed is the best horse I have worked with.”
Varian also revealed on Tuesday that stablemate Belardo is likely to miss the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next week and instead wait for the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on August 14.