VARIAN PRIMING TOP TEAM FOR YORK
IN-FORM trainer Roger Varian is hoping to continue his hot streak with a strong team of runners bound for the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
The Newmarket-based handler has saddled six winners from his last seven starters and will be represented on the Knavesmire by last year’s Sky Bet Ebor winner, Fujaira Prince.
The seven-year-old could bid to become only the second horse to win the £500,000 heritage handicap twice, which would emulate the feats of Flint Jack in 1922 and 1923. Nakeeta was the last horse to attempt the illustrious double, landing the Sky Bet Ebor in 2017 prior to running a very respectable seventh the following year.
Fujaira Prince also holds an engagement in the Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup on Friday 20 August and Varian said: “The Ebor meeting has been a long-term plan, but a decision hasn’t yet been made as to which race he will run in.
“He won nicely off 108 last year and the extra 6lbs he has to carry this time around wouldn’t be enough for us to rule out the race.
“It’s whether you essentially take on Listed and Group 3 horses in a compressed handicap, or line-up against those good horses over two miles. The standard of the opposition will be taken into account before we make up our minds.”
Fujaira Prince has raced once this season, running third in the John Smith’s Silver Cup on 10 July, and he has yet to finish out of the frame in three visits to York.
“We were happy with his comeback and would expect him to build on it,” Varian continued.
“Despite his good record fresh, as he’s getting older it might take him a run to reach peak fitness and the Silver Cup should have set him up nicely for the Ebor meeting.”
Regarding the son of Pivotal’s optimum conditions, Varian added: “Although he has shown form on good ground or quicker, he is better with some give.
“If he gets his ideal conditions, which are probably a mile and six with ease underfoot, he is high class. I think he is capable of conceding weight in a race like the Ebor.”
Fujaira Prince will be joined at York by Eshaada, who is being primed for a tilt at the Group One for fillies & mares, the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, on Thursday, 19 August.
A Shadwell Stud homebred, the three-year-old was last seen finishing strongly to take second in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
She had previously won in Listed company at Newbury having made a winning introduction towards the end of last season. The £400,000 prize will be her first crack at the highest level.
“We’ve always had the Darley Yorkshire Oaks in mind for her and she’s looked very much like a mile-and-a-half filly,” Varian said.
“She ran extremely well in the Ribblesdale where she wasn’t ideally positioned off what was a slow enough pace.
“I think she looked the best filly in that race, she looked the best filly when she won her Listed race and she could be coming here unbeaten if things had panned out differently for her.”
Varian’s other major contenders include the progressive Third Realm in the Group 2 Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes and Teona in the Listed British EBF & Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes.
The former ran third in a Group 3 Gordon Stakes last month having previously finished fifth in the Derby.
Varian continued: “Third Realm ran a nice race at Goodwood – he would need to improve to be a Voltigeur winner, but the more of a test he gets at this trip the more it will suit him.
“We are very much looking forward to running Teona in the Galtres. We’ve not seen her since the Oaks, but we’ve always thought she was capable of considerably better than she’s shown.
“She didn’t handle the very soft ground at Epsom, while she pulled too when she was third to Snowfall in the Musidora, but she has since shown more of an inclination to relax at home.”
The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs from Wednesday 18 August until Saturday 21 August inclusively.
For tickets please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk