Varian relishes shorter trip for Postponed
(Healy Racing Photos) Roger Varian is confident a drop in distance will not be an issue for Postponed in Wednesday's Juddmonte International at York.
Winner of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Prix Foy at Longchamp last season for Luca Cumani, the five-year-old has continued in the same vein since switching stables.
After slamming his rivals twice at the Dubai Carnival, Postponed made a scintillating return to Britain in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and was set to go off as a red-hot favourite to defend his King George crown last month before a respiratory infection ruled him out.
All but one of his eight career victories to date have come over trips of around a mile and a half, but Varian is relishing the prospect of seeing his stable star test his powers over two furlongs shorter on the Knavesmire.
"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.
"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.
"With five other Group One winners in the race, this looks a strong renewal but he seems fully recovered from the setback which ruled him out of the King George.
"He looks well and his work has been very pleasing."
Postponed is the star name in a 13-strong field, with Varian also saddling King Bolete, who can be expected to adopt a pacemaking role.
Aidan 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, fires a twin assault at this year's renewal with King George hero Highland Reel joined by stable companion Sir Isaac Newton, who was fourth in the same event at Ascot last month.
Stoute's last Juddmonte International winner was Notnowcato and he is represented by Arab Spring, who should improve from his belated comeback run in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock less than a fortnight ago, and Exosphere.
Coral-Eclipse winner Hawkbill is a major contender for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby. He is one of just two three-year-olds in the field along with John Gosden's King George runner-up Wings Of Desire, the mount of Frankie Dettori.
Godolphin racing manager John Ferguson said: "It's always been Sheikh Mohammed's plan to run there (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."
The Grey Gatsby bids to make it third time lucky in this event having been placed in the last two renewals for Yorkshire-based Kevin Ryan.
French challenger Dariyan, Summer Mile winner Mutakayyef, Prince of Wales's Stakes hero My Dream Boat and outsider Almodovar complete the line-up.
The only withdrawal from the confirmation stage was O'Brien's Investec Derby runner-up US Army Ranger.