Tag Archive for: Roger Varian

Amo Racing announce David Egan as new retained jockey

David Egan has been announced as the new retained jockey for Amo Racing, signing a two-year contract with Kia Joorabchian’s racing operation.

Rossa Ryan and most recently Kevin Stott have previously held the position of first jockey for the ambitious Amo team who enjoyed their first Royal Ascot and Group One victories in 2023.

The position has been vacant since Stott was released shortly after the Irish Champions Festival where star performer King Of Steel could only finish fourth to Auguste Rodin with Amo electing to book the ‘best available’ jockey for the final months of the 2023 campaign.

Jockey David Egan has picked up the big role as first jockey for Amo Racing
Jockey David Egan has picked up the big role as first jockey for Amo Racing (Damien Eagers/PA)

That allowed Frankie Dettori to link up with King Of Steel on British Champions Day where Roger Varian’s colt helped provide a thrilling swansong to the Italian’s career in the UK and now it is the opportunity of Varian’s primary rider Egan to get first call on Amo’s wealth of talent.

“I’m very pleased to announce David as our first jockey,” said Joorabchian in a statement from Amo.

“We have had a brilliant ongoing relationship over the years and used David consistently on our horses, going back to Mojo Star’s brilliant second in the Derby.

“We now feel it’s the perfect time to consolidate our team and having David on board will be a valuable addition.”

He went on: “David is a talented, ambitious jockey with experience at the top of the sport having won races of the highest calibre all over the world, and growing up as Roger Varian’s stable jockey has given him invaluable experience and maturity.

“Aware of the size of our organisation, we must implement systems to ensure longevity and I have tremendous confidence in this decision. Having David on board for the next two years will help us develop long-term stability as a team.

“I would also like to thank Roger Varian for his tremendous support, confidence and blessing in this decision.”

Egan was crowned champion apprentice in 2017 and got his first taste of top-level success when riding as retained jockey to Prince Faisal, winning the Saudi Cup, Dubai Sheema Classic and Juddmonte International Stakes aboard Mishriff.

Mishriff was David Egan's first star performer
Mishriff was David Egan’s first star performer (Nigel French/PA)

He has since claimed a first Classic aboard Varian’s Eldar Eldarov in the St Leger, with the combination also striking at the Curragh in the Irish equivalent in September.

Egan said: “I’m delighted to have signed a two-year contract with Amo Racing. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Roger and Hanako Varian, and all the Varian Stable team.

“They have been like family to me since I first started in racing, and I’d just like to thank them for their friendship and support over the last seven years.

“I am very excited about the new challenge ahead and I look forward to being part of the Amo Racing team.”

King Of Steel could be Classic-bound this time next year

Champion Stakes winner King Of Steel could be back in America next year for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Roger Varian has indicated.

There was a decision to be had this time around after the giant grey won on Champions Day at Ascot, with owner Kia Joorabchian admitting he was tempted by an ambitious bid for the dirt showpiece.

Discretion got the better part of valour on this occasion with only 14 days separating the meetings at Ascot and Santa Anita, and King Of Steel will contest the Breeders’ Cup Turf over 12 furlongs instead, meaning he will once more clash with his Derby conqueror Auguste Rodin.

“He looks to be taking everything in his stride. He has a positive demeanour of a horse that can go again. The natural instinct was not to come, but the vital signs are good,” said Varian.

“We left the decision to come as long as we could and he looked so good at home he was ticking plenty of boxes to make me think we should travel.

“It’s the type of race we are interested in, the Turf was always the priority. He found a way to win at Ascot, but I’m sure he didn’t enjoy the conditions.

“We could think about the Classic next season as he will stay in training.”

Champion Stakes hero King Of Steel all set to take on America

King Of Steel will aim to follow up his Champion Stakes heroics at the Breeders’ Cup next weekend.

Owner Kia Joorabchian has confirmed the three-year-old is on his way to Santa Anita, most likely for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

He still holds the possibility of running in the Classic, but his lack of experience on dirt makes the 12-furlong turf event a heavy favourite at this stage.

“We’ve been monitoring him all week, I’ve spoken to Roger (Varian) almost every day and I went to see him this week,” Joorabchian told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast on Friday.

Kia Joorabchian celebrates with Frankie Dettori at Ascot
Kia Joorabchian celebrates with Frankie Dettori at Ascot (John Walton/PA)

“To be honest Roger has said the same thing every day, he can’t fault him and he’s in great shape. He’s come out of the race really well.

“Roger would always err on the side of caution, but he’s very happy with him so he’s going to travel today to Santa Anita so fingers crossed he should be running in, I’d say, most probably the Turf, but we haven’t completely ruled anything out yet.

“The reality is, Roger and his team probably feel much more comfortable on the turf, as a three-year-old I think we would edge towards the Turf. He’s never run on dirt and the only factor is if he gets out of the gates a little bit slower he’d get a lot of dirt in his face. That is edging us more towards the Turf.

“The jockey (Frankie Dettori) arrived there yesterday, he sent me a video of himself working out.”

Dettori signs off with Champion Stakes glory aboard King Of Steel

King Of Steel provided Frankie Dettori with the perfect send-off as they combined for a fairytale success in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Roger Varian’s Derby runner-up was the Italian’s final mount on British soil before jetting off for his new venture in California and they proved a match made in heaven in the British Champions Day feature.

Dettori’s historic achievements at Ascot need no introduction, but it is also the scene of some of King Of Steel’s finest performances this term, including a victory in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Placed towards the rear of the field as a lit-up My Prospero took the field along, Dettori had to be at his very best as he steered the son of Wootton Bassett from last to first.

The duo still had plenty of ground to make up as the final furlong loomed, but the stamina reserves of the 3-1 favourite kicked into top gear when it mattered most, to ensure the Dettori swansong got its ultimate conclusion and the crowds burst into raptures chanting the Italian’s name.

Owned by Amo Racing, King Of Steel came home three-quarters of a length clear of George Boughey’s filly Via Sistina, with French raider Horizon Dore back in third.

Frankie Dettori soaks up the applause
Frankie Dettori soaks up the applause (John Walton/PA)

Dettori said: “It’s emotional really, I don’t know what to say. I cannot believe it, the crowd have been sublime. I was doing my best on top and the scream that I got was just incredible, thanks to all of you.

“To win this race is fantastic. It was all in the script! It’s unbelievable. I know don’t know to feel, I don’t know if it’s real. It’s incredible.

“I struggled from the beginning, I couldn’t get him to travel and he was stumbling. Then I decided to get behind Mickael (Barzalona, on Horizon Dore) as I thought he was on the horse to beat, but then I though Oisin was looking good.

“He just found a second wind and he dug deep and the crowd were behind me. The last 100 yards I thought I was going to get there, not before then!

“What a feeling, the crowd! For the first race I thought the crowd were good but they took it to another level, it was honestly incredible.

“It’s a fairytale ending to me, Ascot is my home. I’m pretty emotional to be honest, but happy tears!”

Frankie Dettori celebrates
Frankie Dettori celebrates (John Walton/PA)

Always calm and considered whatever the occasion, Varian conceded the ground was a concern.

“He’s a good horse isn’t he, a tough horse, but he’s run great all year,” said Varian.

“I was (worried about the ground), you have to be, it’s hard work and it’s tough. He’s done well to come from the back, very tough. It was a good performance, and a good ride and a good effort from the team. I haven’t really had a debrief, I’ve had plenty of hugs, but I think I’ll have to watch it again.

“He’s a very agile horse and I don’t think his size has stopped him. The ground is hard for all of them, but he has a big engine, big set of lungs and he’s got through the line – a big heart and a big effort.

“It was a tough watch and I spent most of it thinking, ‘they haven’t been making up ground all day, he could struggle from there’. He came off the bridle turning from home and I thought, ‘don’t drop out, don’t drop out’, and then I thought from the two pole, ‘actually he’s staying on’, and inside the final furlong he did look like he was going to get there.”

He added: “What a story and what a moment to be involved in for us and for everyone. What a great moment for racing.”

Jockey Frankie Dettori and winning owner Kia Joorabchian celebrate King Of Steel's Ascot triumph
Jockey Frankie Dettori and winning owner Kia Joorabchian celebrate King Of Steel’s Ascot triumph (John Walton/PA)

Amo Racing supremo Kia Joorabchian was quick to pay tribute to Dettori after guiding his string’s star performer to a deserved first Group One triumph.

He said: “I’m sorry, I’m so emotional. Frankie the king of Ascot, King Of Steel, he deserved that. What a ride, what a ride. Why is he retiring? What a ride. What an emotional moment, my family is here.

“I’m so happy for Frankie, he deserved this more than anything in the world. To finish like that, I mean, he called me and said, ‘can I ride King Of Steel’, and I said, ‘what can I say to that, of course you can’.

“It’s wonderful, what an incredible atmosphere and this is all for Frankie and he deserves it. What a career he has had and what an incredible performance.

“This guy (King Of Steel) deserves it too, he’s come second in the Derby and we’ve put him in some really tough tests and he’s come through and I’m so happy for the both of them. What an amazing training performance by Roger Varian and Alex Elliott who first bought the horse.”

Varian backing Steel to show his mettle in Champion Stakes

Roger Varian only has one runner on British Champions Day – but it is a headline one and he is happy to feel a bit of pressure ahead of King Of Steel’s bid for glory in the Qipco Champion Stakes.

Runner-up to Auguste Rodin in the Derby at Epsom, the giant grey went on to win the King Edward VII Stakes over 12 furlongs at the Royal meeting, as well as run with great credit in the King George and the Irish Champion Stakes.

He now tries again to secure his first top-level success and given he is Frankie Dettori’s final mount on his last afternoon in European action, there is an extra expectation on his team. But Varian is happy to be part of one of the Flat calendar’s marquee events.

Roger Varian is delighted to be involved on such a big occasion
Roger Varian is delighted to be involved on such a big occasion (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s a day you want to be involved in,” he said.

“Unfortunately we have only got the one runner this year, but we have done well at the meeting in the past. We’ve won the Balmoral once or twice and the last two years we’ve picked up Group One races and we would love to come home with a big prize again this year.

“We’re looking forward to it and it’s exciting. You feel a bit of pressure on the day because you should do, it matters, it’s a big deal. He’s a good horse and we want him to win a big race.

“There will be a little bit of pressure on the day, but that comes with being represented by one of the fancied horses in one of the big races. It’s a position we want to be in and we’re looking forward to it.”

King Of Steel was beaten just a length when dropping to back to a mile and a quarter in the Irish Champion Stakes and Varian is taking heart from a return to Ascot.

“We’ve been very happy with him since Leopardstown,” he said.

“We’ve consciously spread his races out, but he’s had hard races because he’s been racing at the top level and he’s not run a bad race all year.

“Saturday won’t be any easier, it’s a tough field assembled, but he very much deserves to be in the race and we think the stiff 10 furlongs will help him

“I think we can gain some confidence and positivity, but in fairness he’s gone left-handed, he’s gone right-handed, he’s gone up and down Epsom and he’s handled Leopardstown.

“Neither of them are easy tracks and he’s also gone well at Ascot, so I would say he’s an agile horse who is versatile in terms of what kind of track he runs on.

“Yes, it’s nice to know he has run well at Ascot previously, but I suppose any track would not concern me too much knowing the horse.”

John and Thady Gosden’s Mostahdaf was ridden to victory by Dettori in the Juddmonte International at York in the absence of the suspended Jim Crowley.

Crowley is back this weekend and Mostahdaf’s connections were certainly pleased the race has been moved to the inner course given his dislike of testing ground.

“John Gosden and I will walk the course in the morning. We’re very keen to run, it’s not his favoured surface, we know that, but we’ve got to make sure it’s not too soft,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell.

“I realise there are other people who disagree, but from our point of view switching the courses has to help and from the race’s point of view, as a spectacle, you want the best horses so to attract them you have to run it on the best ground possible. I don’t think the soft ground horses will be inconvenienced anyway.

“We’d be lying if we thought he’d do what he did in Saudi (won by seven lengths) and since then he’s won the two top 10-furlong races on the calendar.

“It was probably our fault he hadn’t been able to show how good he was. He did only lose once at three, but we tried stretching him out to a mile and a half (last year). Clearly 10 furlongs is his trip.”

Bay Bridge (left) beat Adayar in the race last year
Bay Bridge (left) beat Adayar in the race last year (John Walton/PA)

Last year’s winner Bay Bridge has perhaps not had the season anticipated by connections but Sir Michael Stoute’s five-year-old ran with credit when sixth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Assistant trainer James Savage said: “We’ve been very pleased with how Bay Bridge came out of the Arc, which was a tough race on ground that dried out throughout the day. He’s been working well since and he’s in good order.

“He ran well at Longchamp and was only beaten about six lengths, having done a little bit too much in Richard’s (Kingscote) hands in the early and middle parts of the race. We are pretty sure he stayed the mile and a half, as he did at Kempton, but you’d have to say that going back to Ascot in conditions we’ve been waiting for all year, he’d have a great shout.”

Horizon Dore has made giant strides this season and is among the favourites after winning the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend, his fourth successive victory.

The gelding is trained by Patrice Cottier and partly-owned by Le Haras De La Gousserie, whose manager Pauline Chehboub told Sky Sports Racing: “He is doing well, he is in good form with some freshness. The trainer is very happy with him and we can’t wait to watch him on the track again.

“He is stronger than at the start of the season. He needed time this year so we chose to stay in France for the first part of the season, with success, and now it’s time to travel and see him at Group One level.

“Just after his win in the Prix Eugene Adam at Saint-Cloud in July, (when) he showed plenty of acceleration, we chose to target Champions Day for the end of the year and now we are excited to go.”

Via Sistina (left) has been a star this season
Via Sistina (left) has been a star this season (Brian Lawless/PA)

George Boughey’s Via Sistina is another in the mix having run with credit all season. Connections plumped for this race rather than the QEII and there would be nothing better than victory in the final British Champions Series race of the year.

“Although she was in both races this has been the plan for her for a long time,” said Boughey.

“I think 10 furlongs is her optimum, and we know that she’s ground-versatile as she won the Pretty Polly on arguably the fastest ground she has ever run on, having previously impressed on soft ground in the Dahlia.

“She looks amazing for this time of year and her best performances come after a break, which she’s had since Deauville two months ago. Oisin (Murphy) already knows her well, having ridden her work when she was with Joe (Tuite). She’s a very high level performer and Oisin is a very good replacement for Jamie (Spencer), who has other commitments.”

Eldar Eldarov set to bypass Champions Day option

Roger Varian’s Eldar Eldarov is unlikely to run again this term as connections are minded to shelve Champions Day plans and instead wait for a return to action next year.

The four-year-old was last seen winning the Irish St Leger at the Curragh in early September, a three-and-a-half-length success over the returning Kyprios.

Prior to that he was fourth in the Goodwood Cup, seventh in the Gold Cup and second behind Giavellotto in the Yorkshire Cup.

After his Irish outing there were mentions of the Long Distance Cup on Qipco British Champions Day, but those plans have been put to one side and it is probable the colt will not run again this term.

Eldar Eldarov and David Egan at the Curragh
Eldar Eldarov and David Egan at the Curragh (Damien Eagers/PA)

“He’s finished for the season, we’re not planning to run him at Ascot,” said Chris Wall, racing manager to owners KHK Racing.

“You must never say never, of course, but that isn’t the plan at the moment.

“We think his trip is a mile and six (furlongs) and whilst he stays two miles, we think he’s a better horse at a mile and six – the problem with that is that there isn’t a huge programme at that distance.

“Having established that, we thought we’d put him away for next season and then plan a campaign around those sorts of races. He will probably have to run over two miles but I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a run over a mile and a half in suitable conditions.”

Eldar Eldarov too strong for returning Kyprios in Irish St Leger

Eldar Eldarov made a successful raid on the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh, as Kyprios finished a brave second in his eagerly-awaited return to the track.

Aidan O’Brien’s five-year-old dominated the staying scene last season, but had been off since his staggering 20-length success in last year’s Prix du Cadran.

But despite Kyprios being sent off the 4-6 favourite in his quest for back-to-back Irish St Leger victories, the afternoon belonged to Eldar Eldarov as Roger Varian’s charge served a reminder of his own class.

David Egan’s mount was bidding to add the Irish equivalent to the Doncaster Classic he secured 12 months ago and having travelled powerfully throughout, he ran on strongly for a three-and-a-half-length triumph.

A big kiss from David Egan for Eldar Eldarov
A big kiss from David Egan for Eldar Eldarov (Damien Eagers/PA)

It was a welcome upturn in fortunes for Varian who saddled King Of Steel to finish fourth in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes, while Eldar Eldarov was back in front for the first time since his finest hour on Town Moor.

Betfair shortened Eldar Eldarov to 7-1 from 14s for the Long Distance Cup on Qipco British Champions Day, with Kyprios unchanged at 6-1.

Varian said: “It’s a big thrill to win a race like the Irish St Leger and I’m delighted to get Eldar Eldarov winning again. He’s run some great races in defeat this year and it’s nice to win two Legers.

“He’s entered up in France on Arc weekend and there is the two-mile race at Ascot. We might consider Ascot.

“He seems to be really best at a mile and six furlongs, but there aren’t too many of those races around. He deserves to run one more time this year and it’s most likely Ascot.”

He added of the winning rider: “David has been with us since he was 15 or 16 and he’s done really well. He’s come up through the ranks and he’s taken his opportunities. I’m delighted for him and he gave him a very straightforward, uncomplicated ride today.”

Varian also provided an update on King Of Steel, who is faring well following his Leopardstown exertions.

The trainer said: “He’s fine this morning and we thought he ran a great race. He’s still very lightly raced and inexperienced. Hopefully we’ll have some big days ahead with him.

“I’m not sure where he’ll go next. He has various options and we’ll take our time to decide. We’ll get him home and see how he is, not rush into anything.

“Hopefully one more race this year and look forward to next year with him.”

Celebration time for David Egan
Celebration time for David Egan (Damien Eagers/PA)

Egan is a Curragh local and was delighted that Eldar Eldarov could land him another Classic on his home turf.

He said: “I had my first Classic winner last year, but to do it where I grew up at Osborne Lodge, which is at the five-furlong pole, means a lot. It’s what dreams are made of and for all the team connected with the horse.

“He had a setback coming here for the St Leger Trial so the boss played it safe and took him home to make sure he’d be all right and it was a blessing in disguise.

“My first main job was riding out for Willie McCreery, who I saw today, and he was a great man to learn from and gave me a lot of experience and taught me a lot. I was probably spoiled riding out of my granddad’s (Dessie Hughes) on the yard’s hack but he taught me so much and this win means so much.

“He has a tendency to miss the break, but the race went so smooth, he was a race-fit horse today and was as tough as nails. I’m delighted he got his day.”

Meanwhile, Champions Day appears on the agenda for Kyprios having thrilled his handler on his return.

Kyprios finished second on his eagerly-awaited return from injury
Kyprios finished second on his eagerly-awaited return from injury (Donall Farmer/PA)

O’Brien told Racing TV: “I was delighted. A lot of people have done a lot of work to get him to here.

“All of the vets have done incredible work to get him back. We didn’t think we would ever see this day so to have him back and be happy and for Ryan (Moore) to be happy is something to really look forward to .

“He’s going to come on a lot and I can’t believe he’s here. He got here three weeks ago for a canter and we thought there was a chance and then every day he has progressed.

“Ascot looks lovely for him and he will have a nice bit of time before now and then. He will love going round Ascot and it would be great to see him come back to what he was. It was a great comeback run.”

Varian ‘delighted’ with Irish Champion hope King Of Steel

Roger Varian believes King Of Steel looks stronger now than at any stage this season and is hoping his patience is rewarded with a victory in the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

The Amo Racing-owned grey faces a rematch with his Derby conqueror Auguste Rodin over a reduced trip of 10 furlongs in the highlight of the two-day Irish Champions Festival.

While Auguste Rodin did follow up in the Irish Derby, he ran no race at all in the King George at Ascot, just like he had done in the 2000 Guineas.

King Of Steel, on the other hand, won the King Edward VII and ran well to finish third in the King George, after which Varian felt the extra time between that race and this would be more beneficial than heading to York.

King Of Steel (right) and Auguste Rodin dominated the Derby
King Of Steel (right) and Auguste Rodin dominated the Derby (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We’ve been delighted with King Of Steel since the King George. He ticked over nicely for a couple of weeks afterwards and we built up his work heading towards the Irish Champion Stakes,” said the Newmarket handler.

“I thought the King George was a very attritional race and he ran really well, but you’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t think he had a hard race, so we felt the extra two and a half weeks the Irish Champion Stakes gave us over the Juddmonte International was beneficial for a horse of his age and at this stage of his career.

“I think he’s been maturing and strengthening throughout the year and you won’t see the finished article maybe until next year, but his performances have shown you that he’s well up to performing (at this level) and we think he can only get better.

“He looks stronger now than he did three months ago and I think with a winter on his back he’ll be even stronger next year.”

Aidan O'Brien with Auguste Rodin and his work rider Rachel Richardson
Aidan O’Brien with Auguste Rodin and his work rider Rachel Richardson (Tom Maher/PA)

Auguste Rodin now has something of a question mark hanging over him but having brought him back from his dismal run in the Guineas to win the Derby, Aidan O’Brien is not too concerned.

He said: “We’re really happy with him, the circumstances are all different for this. It’s a mile and a quarter, quicker ground, he’s drawn in rather than out and we’ve been happy with him since Ascot.

“There’s a lot of things different this time. Ryan (Moore) felt him come off the bridle early last time and didn’t take a chance, he took the decision to protect him rather than damage him, which definitely wasn’t the wrong thing.”

O’Brien also runs last year’s winner Luxembourg and Point Lonsdale.

Luxembourg just got the better of Onesto last year
Luxembourg just got the better of Onesto last year (Donall Farmer/PA)

“Luxembourg is very well also since Ascot, we probably rode him a little bit forceful over a mile and a half on that ground, he’s not a mile and six horse, he’s a mile and a quarter horse that gets a mile and a half,” said O’Brien.

“He has done a lot of hard, strong work and seems in good form.”

Owen Burrows, and in particular owners Shadwell, have enjoyed a stellar season in the top races and chase another Group One with the supplemented Alflaila.

With Mostahdaf winning the Prince of Wales’s and the Juddmonte International, Al Husn taking the Nassau and Hukum starring in the King George, the famous blue and white silks have been as prominent as ever this season, despite the streamlining of the operation.

“Touch wood, all has gone well and he’s had a nice prep from York,” said Burrows referring to his only start this season, a victory in the York Stakes.

“He’s not had a break as such, but he’s obviously had a nice spell between the two races. I’m not sure about it (bounce factor) to be truthful, but it certainly eliminates that possibility anyway.

“We’re all happy he goes there in good form and we’ll see on Saturday whether or not he’s good enough.

“He hadn’t run for a good few months when he went to York obviously, so he’s going to be sharper for it and he’s going to have to be.

“But he’s won his Group Threes and he’s won a Group Two and this is the logical next step up. There isn’t too much at home for him to go for and it’s sporting that Shadwell have supplemented him to give us a chance of being involved in another top, top race.”

Adding further spice is John and Thady Gosden’s multiple Group One-winning filly Nashwa, who lost little in defeat when beaten a length by stablemate Mostahdaf at York.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for owner Imad Al Sagar, said: “It’s really exciting to be going there with her in what looks to be a top-class renewal.

“She came out of York really well, she’s bouncing, and she deserves to be there.

“Her York run was a rock-solid performance in every way and we’re delighted to be there. The BHA viewed her York run as a career-best, they put her up to 121 which is the second highest in the race.

“Hopefully, Leopardstown could suit her style.”

Onesto was second to Luxembourg last year and is back for another crack for Fabrice Chappet – with Frankie Dettori on top.

“He has a bit of experience doesn’t he. He knows his way round,” said Chappet of Dettori.

“He was supposed to ride Onesto earlier this year and he has ridden for me in the past. I have no worries having Frankie aboard and we are all very happy about that.”

On comparing last year with this year, he went on: “The first two in the Derby look decent and a Group One race is never easy. But I am happy with my horse and he has worked well since his race first time out in the Jacques le Marois, which was a good effort.

“It’s not easy for me to say at this stage and at this time of the year is when we get the chance to compare the three-year-olds and the older horses. Before they meet each other, I guess it is difficult to say. It is consistently a good race.”

Curragh and Irish St Leger still the aim for Eldar Eldarov

Last year’s St Leger hero Eldar Eldarov will bid to add the Irish equivalent to his CV when he heads to the Curragh on day two of the Irish Champions Festival.

It promises to be a big weekend for Roger Varian, who is poised to saddle crack middle-distance colt King Of Steel in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 9, while 24 hours later his star stayer will attempt to get back to winning ways and register his first success since his Doncaster Classic triumph 12 months ago in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger.

The son of Dubawi was due to run at the Curragh in the Group Three Leger trial there earlier this month, but got worked up in the early stages of the journey to Ireland and was subsequently declared a non-runner.

Eldar Eldarov has already tasted Classic success
Eldar Eldarov has already tasted Classic success (Tim Goode/PA)

Connections will now be hoping for a smoother trip when Eldar Eldarov heads to the Kildare track for his intended outing on September 10.

“He wasn’t travelling very well and we don’t know why because he’s never had that problem before,” explained Chris Wall, racing manager for owners KHK Racing Ltd.

“He got upset travelling and they thought rather than carry on to Ireland they would bring him home. I think they had got into north Wales just beyond Chester.

“The worry was if you put him on the ferry and it deteriorated into something like colic then you are in the middle of the sea and you can’t do anything about it. He just got his knickers in a twist about something so they brought him home.

“The target for him is to go to the Irish St Leger and that is very much still on the cards at the moment. He’s grand and it’s all systems go for that.”

Sakheer was hugely impressive in last year's Mill Reef Stakes
Sakheer was hugely impressive in last year’s Mill Reef Stakes (PA)

Wall also revealed that the KHK Racing-owned Sakheer is unlikely to take up his engagement in Haydock’s Betfair Sprint Cup on September 9, but hopes to see the Zoffany colt back in action at Ascot in the Qipco British Champions Sprint on October 21.

Also trained by Varian, last year’s Mill Reef winner was not disgraced in the 2000 Guineas earlier this year, but having failed to truly stay the mile has been off the track since his first run back over sprinting distances in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

“He’s had a few niggly things after Ascot, but he’s back in work and we’re hoping to run him in something this autumn,” said Wall.

“I don’t think he’ll be ready for the Haydock race, that’s not far away now so he won’t make that. But we hope we might have him back for a run perhaps in the Champions Sprint and we’ll go from there.

“It’s been one of those years really where things haven’t quite gone his way, but we hope we can get him back on track and if not we’ll have to hope things go right for him next year instead.

“It’s a tough year at three and if you miss your slots early, which he did, then you haven’t much else and any obvious route back into things. It’s tough, but we haven’t given up on him yet.”

Eldar Eldarov taken out of intended Curragh engagement

Eldar Eldarov has been declared a non runner in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Roger Varian’s St Leger hero was on a reconnaissance mission ahead of the main event on September 10, seeking his first victory since scooping Classic honours at Doncaster last term.

Having begun the current campaign with a pleasing performance in the Yorkshire Cup, the son of Dubawi was below-par when well held and only seventh in the Ascot Gold Cup.

He bounced back with a respectable effort to finish fourth behind runaway winner Quickthorn in the Goodwood Cup and connections had seen this as the ideal spot to search for a confidence-boosting triumph.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s website listed the Dubawi colt as a non runner due to illness/unwell.

Joseph O’Brien has won this race for the past two seasons and is well represented in his hat-trick bid, with Royal Ascot scorers Dawn Rising and Okita Soushi, as well as the useful Point King, representing the Owning Hill handler.

Aidan O’Brien’s Library is due to step up in trip following her third in behind Savethelastdance in the Irish Oaks, although she was in action at the abandoned Cork meeting on Friday evening. The line-up is completed by Dermot Weld’s hat-trick-seeking Shamida, who registered her first Group-level success when taking the Stanerra Stakes in July.

Also on the card, Unless will attempt to give Ballydoyle back-to-back victories in the Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes as she steps up in grade following her recent course-and-distances victory in the Listed Michael John Kennedy Memorial Irish EBF Stakes.

The Group Three contest was won by Luxembourg last term and although there may not be that sort of quality in this year’s renewal, there is a handy cast of seven heading to post which includes Noel Meade’s pair of Layfayette and Helvic Dream, as well as Gladness Stakes winner Goldana.

Eldar Eldarov chasing Curragh confidence booster

Eldar Eldarov will be given a sighter of the Curragh on Sunday when he makes a raiding mission to Ireland for the Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial Stakes.

Roger Varian’s St Leger hero could set up a shot at the Irish equivalent on September 10 with a strong showing in the Group Three contest as he seeks his first victory since scooping Classic honours at Doncaster last term.

Having begun the current campaign with a pleasing performance in the Yorkshire Cup, the son of Dubawi was below-par when well held and only seventh in the Ascot Gold Cup.

However, he bounced back with a respectable effort to finish fourth behind runaway winner Quickthorn in the Goodwood Cup and connections feel this is the ideal spot to search for a confidence-boosting triumph.

“That was a funny race, as we know, and Tom Marquand stole it from the front,” said Chris Wall, racing manager for owners KHK Racing Ltd, reflecting on Eldar Eldarov’s showing on the Sussex Downs.

“He acquitted himself well and David Egan was the first to go after and chase Tom Marquand in the straight and, in actual fact, Eldar could have done with being waited with that little bit longer.

“This is an obvious place to go and looks a good opportunity to get back in the winning groove.”

Joseph O’Brien has won this the past two seasons and is well represented in his hat-trick bid, with Royal Ascot scorers Dawn Rising and Okita Soushi, as well as the useful Point King, representing the Owning Hill handler.

Aidan O’Brien’s Library steps up in trip following her third in behind Savethelastdance in the Irish Oaks, while the six-strong line-up is completed by Dermot Weld’s hat-trick seeking Shamida, who registered her first Group-level success when taking the Stanerra Stakes in July.

Also on the card, Unless will attempt to give Ballydoyle back-to-back victories in the Fitzdares Royal Whip Stakes as she steps up in grade following her recent course-and-distances victory in the Listed Michael John Kennedy Memorial Irish EBF Stakes.

The Group Three contest was won by Luxembourg last term and although there may not be that sort of quality in this year’s renewal, there is a handy cast of seven heading to post which includes Noel Meade’s pair of Layfayette and Helvic Dream, as well as Gladness Stakes winner Goldana.

King Of Steel bypasses York in favour of Irish Champion Stakes

King Of Steel will head to the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes next with connections deciding to stick to their original plan.

The Derby second and King George third, who has also won the King Edward VII Stakes this season, had been given the option of taking on Paddington and Mostahdaf in the Juddmonte International at York next week.

However, the Roger Varian-trained colt was not confirmed for the York highlight and he will drop down to 10 furlongs at Leopardstown on September 9.

“We didn’t confirm him today for York,” said Tom Pennington, racing manager for owners, Amo Racing.

“I know when you look at the prize money and think it could be quite a small field, you might get a bit carried away, but we are going back to what was always Plan A and go to Ireland.

“We’ve been patient with him all the way along and I don’t think another couple of weeks is going to do us any harm.

“He’s in good form and he’s on the right track, we’re very happy with him.

“He is a particularly big horse but he’s beautifully proportioned and he’s very well balanced, not many horses that size can go round Tattenham Corner but he floated round there.

“When you look at his size, touch wood, he should be even better again next year and we’re playing the long game with him.”

Varian considering route to Irish St Leger with Eldar Eldarov

Roger Varian is considering a possible tilt at the Comer Group International Irish St Leger with Eldar Eldarov having been pleased with his latest outing in the Goodwood Cup.

Last year’s St Leger hero started the season with an encouraging performance when second in the Yorkshire Cup, but had a point to prove on the Sussex Downs having disappointed slightly in the Ascot Gold Cup.

Although unable to land a blow on runaway winner Quickthorn in the Goodwood contest, the Carlburg Stables handler was content with the son of Dubawi’s fourth-placed finish where he reversed Knavesmire form with Giavellotto and was also ahead of John and Thady Gosden’s Gold Cup champion Courage Mon Ami.

“It was a muddling race and a frustrating race to watch, but I thought he ran right back to form,” said Varian.

David Egan and Roger Varian lift the trophy after winning the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster
David Egan and Roger Varian lift the trophy after winning the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster (Tim Goode/PA)

“He was a head behind Andrew Balding’s horse (Coltrane) and reversed the form with the Marco Botti horse who beat him of course at York. We were giving him weight that day whereas off levels we beat him the other day.

“It’s hard not to say that within a 1lb or two, Eldar wasn’t back to somewhere near his best so that is encouraging.”

Running plans are still to be finalised for the four-year-old’s next move, but Varian indicated he would be keen to have a crack at adding the Irish St Leger to the Doncaster equivalent already on his CV.

However, the decision is still to be made whether Eldar Eldarov heads to the Curragh on September 10 fighting fresh or whether he tunes up in either Sunday’s Comer Group International Irish St Leger Trial over course and trip, or next week’s Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes at York.

“I would really like to run him in the Irish St Leger, so it is working out whether he has a run before then,” said Varian.

“He does have a few options in the next 10 days if he was to run again, or do we go to Ireland with a fresh horse? We just need 48 hours or so to make up our minds.”

King Of Steel team eye York and Leopardstown options

King Of Steel is set to have his credentials tested over 10 furlongs following his third-placed finish in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Roger Varian’s Derby runner-up headed to Ascot for a rematch with his Epsom conqueror Auguste Rodin on the back of an impressive victory over course and distance in the King Edward VII Stakes at the Royal meeting.

The Amo Racing-owned colt was sent off the 9-2 second-favourite at the Berkshire track and although faring better than Aidan O’Brien’s dual Classic winner who disappointed, the son of Wootton Bassett was unable to reel in the winner Hukum and runner-up Westover despite travelling powerfully into the home straight.

A drop back in trip is now on the cards and with entries for both the Juddmonte International Stakes at York (August 23) and Leopardstown’s Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes (September 9), there are plenty of big-race options available to the strapping colt, who could quickly provide his owners with more big-race glory after Bucanero Fuerte secured a first UK and Irish Group One victory in the Phoenix Stakes.

“King Of Steel is in good form and Roger is very happy with him,” said Tom Pennington, racing and operations manager for Amo.

“We’re undecided where we will go at the minute and we’ve got a lot of decisions to make.

“He’s in the Juddmonte, he’s entered in the Irish Champion and we put him in the Champion Stakes at Ascot the other day and I think we believe now that 10 furlongs is his trip. He’s not a slow horse by any means.”

A trip to Dublin for Irish Champions Weekend would give King Of Steel an additional two weeks to recover from his Ascot exertions and is slated as the slight favourite at this stage.

And the feeling within the camp is a truly-run race over a mile and a quarter is where he will be seen at the peak of his powers having just faded in the closing stages of the King George.

“All options are open and we need to speak to Roger,” continued Pennington. “At this stage I would say we will probably be leaning towards the Irish Champion Stakes.

“I think we got away with it at Royal Ascot, but as you saw he was keen early in the King George. You could argue coming round into the straight he was the last horse off the bridle and just flattened out the last furlong, Kevin (Stott) said he was running on fumes.

“I think a strongly-run 10 furlongs with an end-to-end gallop is where you will really see him at his best.”

Hukum team look like favouring direct route to Arc

Hukum appears increasingly likely to head straight for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe following his heroic success in last month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

The six-year-old edged out Westover in an epic renewal of Ascot’s midsummer showpiece, his second win at Group One level having landed last year’s Coronation Cup at Epsom before suffering an injury.

Having proved his ability remains very much intact, connections are happy to keep their powder dry for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest on October 1.

“Touch wood he’s in good shape and he seemed to come out of it well,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell.

“I haven’t spoken to Owen (Burrows, trainer) particularly about it, but from what I saw quoted I think he’s happy to go straight to the Arc unless something else presented itself.

“He’s a dual Group One winner, so we don’t have to run him just for the sake of it, and I think if we got him to Longchamp in good shape, he’d have a decent chance.

“That’s our job now, to get him there in the best possible shape.”

Jim Crowley celebrates winning the Nassau Stakes aboard Al Husn
Jim Crowley celebrates winning the Nassau Stakes aboard Al Husn (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Shadwell team enjoyed further Group One success at Goodwood last week, with the Roger Varian-trained Al Husn springing a minor upset in the Nassau Stakes.

She holds entries in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and the Yorkshire Oaks at York before the end of this month, while a trip to the Breeders’ Cup could be on her agenda later in the year.

Gold added: “She’s in the Romanet and she’s in the Yorkshire Oaks. I was just speaking to Roger this morning and if we want to go further he’s always said he’d love to end up in America with her, possibly with the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp as a race before then.

“We’re in the lucky position now where we’re not trying to make a Group One winner, she has achieved that, so we can just wait and see.

“She must have had a relatively hard race last week, although she’s a tough as nails, and now she’s a Group One winner we want to do the right thing by her.

“The options are the Romanet and the Yorkshire Oaks, or neither and just concentrate on the Opera and then maybe go to America.

“I was speaking to Roger this morning and we said Sheikha Hissa might be able to come to York and she might like to see her run. There’s lots of things to work out, so we’ll have a good think about it early next week and see what everyone thinks is the right course of action.”