Varian seeks winning performance from Father Of Jazz

Father Of Jazz bids to continue his steep upward curve in the Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield.

Runner-up on his only start on turf for Michael Bell last summer, the Kingman colt has since rattled off a hat-trick of all-weather wins after joining Roger Varian.

The four-year-old made a mockery of an opening handicap mark of 90 when slamming his rivals by upwards of four and a half lengths over the course and distance three weeks ago – and Varian is looking forward to testing his powers at Group Three level on Saturday.

He said: “Father Of Jazz is a nice, progressive horse who is rated 101 now – and in my opinion it does not look like he would be out of place in a race like this.

“He obviously lacks a bit of experience compared to the opposition, but I don’t think he lacks the quality.”

Chief among Father Of Jazz’s rivals is the Marco Botti-trained Felix, who will be ridden by Hollie Doyle.

The son of Lope De Vega made a successful return from 10 months off the track when narrowly denying the high-class Bangkok at Wolverhampton in January, before the latter reversed the form with a half-length verdict in Lingfield’s Winter Derby Trial three weeks ago.

Marco Botti has high hopes for Felix
Marco Botti has high hopes for Felix (Simon Cooper/PA)

Botti said: “There are only five runners, but there are some good horses in the race.

“We have been pleased with our horse, and he seems in good form since he ran in the Winter Derby Trial.

“He’s a stronger horse this year than in the past. We’ve got Hollie Doyle back on. Richard (Kingscote) didn’t do anything wrong in the Winter Derby Trial, but Hollie has won on the horse twice and knows him well, so it’s probably a sensible decision to let her ride again.

“You never know with five runners whether it’s going to be a tactical race or not, but we’ll see how it pans out.

“We have to respect the field and we’re just hoping for a bit of luck.”

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With trainer Andrew Balding electing to run the aforementioned Bangkok in last weekend’s Saudi Cup, in which he picked up huge prize-money for finishing eighth, the Kingsclere handler relies on Johnny Drama in the Lingfield feature.

The latter won four successive races in the space of a month late last year, before finishing fifth in the Quebec Stakes at Lingfield over a mile and a quarter in December.

“He’s in great shape, and the question mark is whether Lingfield is his preferred track,” said Balding.

“He probably wasn’t at his best there the last time, but he had had a busy time and has had a little freshen up since.

“The horse is ready to go, so we’ll find out once and for all.”

Forest Of Dean represents John Gosden
Forest Of Dean represents John Gosden (Mark Kerton/PA)

John Gosden’s Forest Of Dean was just behind Felix at both Wolverhampton and Lingfield and is again in opposition, while Hugo Palmer’s outsider Power Of States completes the quintet.

Moss Gill aims to earn himself a trip to sunnier climes with a comeback victory in the Betway Hever Sprint Stakes.

The five-year-old ran an excellent race to finish third in the Group One Nunthorpe at York last summer, and already has a return to the Knavesmire pencilled in as a long-term objective.

However, trainer Ed Bethell – who took over the licence from his father James at the turn of the year – is first eyeing a tilt at the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan, providing his stable star can prove his well-being this weekend.

Bethell said: “Moss Gill had a nice winter break and is just ready to start back, with a view to some bigger targets later in the year.

“He has an invitation for the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup Night. If he wins on Saturday, he probably warrants his place in Dubai – whereas, if he doesn’t, at least we haven’t wasted a trip.

“He’s the highest-rated horse in the race, which I thought was going to be the case before the entries came out.

“There are a couple of horses in there that look a little frightening, (but) we’ve got our horse going there in great form – and I’m really excited about running him.

Moss Gill (centre) runs in the Hever Sprint Stakes
Moss Gill (centre) runs in the Hever Sprint Stakes (Dan Abraham/PA)

“It’s very much a starting point. Like all the horses I’ve run since the start of January, they have all needed their first run – and I would imagine he’ll be the same.”

He added: “The step up in trip would not overly concern me, because he does have form over six furlongs – he was just beaten in a big three-year-old handicap at the July Festival a few years ago, and he seemed to stay well that day.

“I am very fortunate to have a horse like him in my first season. (Owner) Mr Van Cutsem has been kind to keep the horse with us.”

Lord Riddiford steps up from handicap company to a Pattern race, but John Quinn’s sprinter usually breaks well and has the advantage of being drawn on the inside in stall one.

Lord Riddiford looks to be drawn well in stall one (
Lord Riddiford looks to be drawn well in stall one (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’s been in very good form this winter and we’re very happy with him. Obviously it’s another step up, but he’s a contender,” said the Malton handler.

“He’s in stall one, we’re hoping for a good run and hope he wins.”

There could be plenty of pace on early as another speedy horse, Ornate, is next door in stall two.

David Griffiths’ stable stalwart makes a quick reappearance after finishing fourth of five in a handicap at Southwell on Wednesday.

David Griffiths, trainer of Ornate (Mike Egerton/PA)
David Griffiths, trainer of Ornate (Mike Egerton/PA)

“The track was very deep the other day and it didn’t suit him, but he’s come out of the race good,” said the Bawtry trainer.

“He’s got a good draw at Lingfield. He got beat a nose there a couple of runs back.

“On his day, Ornate is a very good horse. He’s in good order with himself and hopefully we can have a good go at it.”

The other hopefuls are Robert Cowell’s pair of Blue De Vega and Rocket Action and Royal Birth and Belle Anglaise, who both hail from Stuart Williams’ yard.

Father Of Jazz hits the right notes at Lingfield

Father Of Jazz looked a very smart prospect when taking his career record to three wins from four starts in the Betway Handicap at Lingfield.

Making his handicap debut, the Roger Varian-trained son of Kingman made a mockery of a rating of 90, easily beating some solid yardsticks in the process.

Initially with Michael Bell, the Bill and Tim Gredley-owned colt has yet to taste defeat in three starts for Varian.

The 1-2 favourite was far more tractable than he had been at Chelmsford previously for Callum Shepherd, and cruised to a four-and-a-half-length win.

Varian said: “He looks a nice horse, but he’s still a bit of a baby with some growing up to do – there’s the makings of a nice horse there, though.

“I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do with him. He’s got the Winter Derby entry, but that’s only speculative – we’d possibly like to keep him in handicaps for another run, but we we’re pleased with him today.

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“In time he could make up into a nice horse. He was slowly away from the gate again today, which is disappointing, but there’s still plenty to work on.”

Roger Varian was lukewarm on a Winter Derby bid for Father Of Jazz
Roger Varian was lukewarm on a Winter Derby bid for Father Of Jazz (Mike Egerton/PA)

He added: “If we can go quietly we will. While there are not a huge number in the provisional Winter Derby entries, there’s still some very nice horses and he’s only won off 90 today so it would be a big jump to go there.”

The day ended on a low note for Shepherd, who was brought down on Cafe Milano by the ill-fated Goodwood Showman.

Along with the latter’s rider, Kieran O’Neill, Shepherd was taken to hospital for a thorough check over.

Clerk of the course George Hill said: “They are just on their way to East Surrey, Redhill Hospital for further examination. Hopefully they’ll be OK, they’ve both just gone to be doubly checked over.”

Royaume Uni had little trouble following up a recent jumpers bumper win
Royaume Uni had little trouble following up a recent jumpers bumper win (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Gary Moore was keeping his feet on the ground despite Royaume Uni (8-13 favourite) following up an impressive win in a recent jumpers’ bumper in the Read Katie Walsh On Betway Insider Handicap.

Moore must think something of the ex-Andre Fabre inmate to have persuaded son and former champion jockey Ryan out for the ride, his first in the UK of 2021, and it was not a wasted trip.

The half-brother to King George winner Novellist had far too much class from an opening British mark of 79 for some in-form rivals, only needing to be pushed out to win by four and a quarter lengths.

The Galileo gelding had his first two runs for Moore over hurdles and is likely to return to that sphere once the ground eventually dries up.

“I don’t know if he’s beaten much so I’m not getting carried away,” said Moore.

“The top horse (Social City) might have won a few (four of his last five), but he’s probably reached his mark. There were two doubtful stayers in the race as well so I’m certainly not getting carried away.

“I suppose it was nice to see him win it in a different style to the other day. What I will say is I won’t be in a rush to take him back to Lingfield for £2,000.

“He was bought for hurdling, he’s only doing this now because the ground is so bad everywhere.

“I’ll try to get him a mark I think, then we can see where we are. At least he’s got another avenue to go down if he doesn’t make the grade jumping.”