Juddmonte favourite Postponed given vote of confidence by Roger Varian
Horse racing Juddmonte favourite Postponed given vote of confidence by Roger Varian Newmarket trainer says colt has been training well over last few weeks
Market leader was forced to miss King George with respiratory illness
Punters pondering whether to support red-hot favourite Postponed from the illness-stricken Roger Varian yard in Wednesday’s Juddmonte International Stakes at York were given grounds for hope after the trainer issued a postive bulletin about the colt.
Varian’s colt faces 12 opponents, including stablemate and expected pacemaker King Bolete, in the highlight of York’s four-day Ebor meeting and the handler is confident his runner is in peak form despite the bug affecting his stable, which caused Postponed to miss the King George at Ascot last month.
The stable did have a winner on Saturday at Doncaster, but Varian is sending out very few runners compared to his usual amount at this time of year. While the trainer reports that a number of his horses are still affected, he reported: “With five other Group One winners in the race, this looks a strong renewal but [Postponed] seems fully recovered from the setback which ruled him out of the King George. He looks well and his work has been very pleasing.”
The market leader is a best-priced 6-4 after putting up an impressive winning display in the Coronation Cup on Derby day at Epsom, and Varian feels the drop in trip from a mile and a half to ten furlongs for Postponed will not be a major issue. “We are looking forward to dropping back to 10 furlongs and this race has been an objective of ours since the start of the season,” said the Newmarket handler.
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“He is a colt with terrific turn of foot and a high cruising speed. These attributes and the manner in which he has been winning over a mile and a half suggest that the drop back in trip shouldn’t be a problem. The nature of the track at York should play to his strengths.”
Related: Ryan Moore a step ahead on Highland Reel in Ascot’s King George
Second favourite in the betting is Coral-Eclipse winner Hawkbill representing Charlie Appleby, Newmarket trainer for Godolphin, whose racing manager John Ferguson said: “It’s always been Sheikh Mohammed’s plan to run [at York]. After Hawkbill won the Eclipse, which was a huge thrill, we discussed the possibility of a King George. But really, the idea was always to come directly to the Juddmonte.
“The great thing about it is, it’s a mile and a quarter, which we know he loves. He’s very flexible as far as ground conditions are concerned. And although he is taking on some of the best mile-and-a-quarter horses in Europe, we believe he deserves to be there. Charlie is very happy with him. He is a horse that’s maturing mentally all the time. They’ve done a great job with him and I think he will run well.”
Highland Reel, who took advantage of Postponed’s absence from the King George, has been declared with Seamie Heffernan on board in the continued absence of Aidan O’Brien’s injured stable jockey Ryan Moore.
O’Brien and Sir Michael Stoute have trained a joint-record five previous winners of the £900,000 contest. O’Brien, who last struck with Australia in 2014, also runs Sir Isaac Newton, who was fourth behind Highland Reel at Ascot.
Stoute’s last Juddmonte winner was Notnowcato and he is represented by Arab Spring, who can be expected to improve from his belated comeback run in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock less than a fortnight ago, and Exosphere.
The Grey Gatsby, meanwhile, bids to make it third time lucky in this event having been placed in the last two renewals for Kevin Ryan.
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