Oaks trio giving Varian plenty of cause for optiism

Roger Varian is relishing the prospect of firing a three-pronged assault on the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom next week.

The Newmarket handler is responsible for the two shortest-priced British-trained runners for the fillies’ Classic in Zeyaadah and Teona, while Save A Forest is viewed as a lively outsider.

All three were beaten in their trials, but Zeyaadah in particular was a little unlucky when charging home from an uncompromising position to fill the runner-up spot behind Dubai Fountain in the Cheshire Oaks.

“I was delighted with her (at Chester) – I thought it was a very good run,” said Varian.

“The visual impression was very good. She was a shade unlucky. Take nothing away from the winner, but I think you could make a case for Zeyaadah winning that day if she could have got running a little bit earlier in the straight.

“I know Jim (Crowley) got a mighty feel from her – he was buzzing about her when he got off.”

Teona was a big mover in the Oaks market earlier in the year amid reports of sparkling workouts on the Newmarket gallops.

The nine-length winner of a Newcastle maiden in November, the daughter of Sea The Stars was much too keen to do herself justice when third on her return to action in the Musidora Stakes at York.

Varian added: “We take the positives out of the Musidora run. These are trials at the end of the day and if you’re going to get things wrong it’s better to do it in the trial than on the big day.

“She’s a big, strong, energetic filly who had a lot of fizz on the day at York. She got a little upset in the starting gate and over-raced a little bit off that very steady gallop.

“She made a nice move in the straight and then probably got tired in the last 100 yards. I thought there were a lot of positives to take from the race and she’s trained very well since.

“Of course the Oaks presents a different sort of challenge, (but) I think she’s extremely talented and I hope that on the day she won’t make the sort of juvenile mistakes she made at York.”

Save A Forest is a much bigger price to claim Oaks glory at 40-1.

Save a Forest at Lingfield
Save a Forest at Lingfield (John Walton/PA)

However, Varian feels his dual winner merits her place in the line-up after finishing a close second in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.

“She’s great. She’s a filly who has taken a giant step forward after start of her career and I would anticipate another good step forward from Lingfield,” said the trainer.

“Her run at Lingfield was very good. I thought she was going to win most of the way up the straight and I think she just hit one of the ridges wrong about a furlong from home, which just threw her off stride and perhaps stopped her winning.

“She’s an interesting filly. She’s very laid back at home and doesn’t give us any clues in her home work, but I love animals who with each run take a step forward and the exciting thing with her is you don’t know when she’s going to reach her ceiling.

“However she runs in the Oaks, I’d be almost guaranteeing it will be a good deal better than her run at Lingfield because that’s the pattern of her progress.

Roger Varian is in a strong position ahead of the Oaks
Roger Varian is in a strong position ahead of the Oaks (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I’m very happy with her condition and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see her run a nice race.”

Varian was unsurprisingly non-committal when asked which filly he felt gave him the best chance of victory, saying: “I couldn’t split them – it would unfair to do so.

“They’re all very different, but the three of them were having a pick of grass in the paddock on Wednesday afternoon and when a rare bit of sunshine broke out they looked outstanding in their coats and in their condition.

“I felt if you just had one of them going into the race you’d be quite happy with your card, so to have three who I think are all deserving of their place in the line-up is exciting.”

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