Roger Varian is excited to see if Teona can provide him with a first Breeders’ Cup success on Saturday.
It is 10 years since Nahrain came within three-quarters of a length of breaking the Newmarket trainer’s duck when touched off in the Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs under Frankie Dettori.
Varian saddled another runner-up at the showpiece meeting in 2019, with Daahyeh finding only Sharing too strong in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.
Teona will fly the flag for the team at Del Mar this weekend, having been kept fresh since inflicting a surprise defeat on Snowfall in the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp in September.
Connections had the option of keeping the daughter of Sea The Stars against her own sex, but ultimately decided to let her take on the boys, and Dermot Weld’s top-class mare Tarnawa, in the Turf.
“I came close with Nahrain in 2011 at Churchill Downs and love coming back out to California as I finished high school here,” Varian said.
“We thought about the Filly & Mare for Teona and concluded they were both tough races.
“However, the Turf is a mile and a half and that’s this filly’s optimum trip.
“It gives her the better winning chance as the other option is solid in its own right.”
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Roger Varian has a choice of engagements at the Breeders’ Cup for his star filly Teona.
The daughter of Sea The Stars looked primed for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after inflicting a shock defeat on dual Classic heroine Snowfall in last month’s Prix Vermeille.
But with heavy rain ensuring testing conditions prevailed at ParisLongchamp, connections ultimately decided against a tilt at Europe’s premier middle-distance contest.
Varian reports the three-year-old to be firmly on course for a trip to California, however, with a decision on whether she will contest the Filly & Mare Turf, or takes on the boys in the Turf, set to be made closer to the time.
“It’s always been the plan to take Teona to the Breeders’ Cup since we defected from the Arc,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“She’ll be entered in the Fillies And Mares, but she’ll also have an entry in the Turf.
“We’ll make a decision later on, but she’s in great form, and we’re looking forward to running her in one of those races.”
Varian hopes the fact Teona had much of the summer off after failing to fire in a soft-ground Oaks at Epsom in early June will stand her in good stead at Del Mar.
He added: “She seems to like the faster ground and she should certainly get that.
“She’s quite lightly-raced and has not had as hard a season as some of the horses she’ll be racing against.
“She showed herself to be high quality in her most recent two starts, at Windsor and at Longchamp in the Vermeille, so she’ll be deserving of her place in the line-up – whichever option we choose.
“Most likely, she’ll be our only runner at the Breeders’ Cup this year.”
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Roger Varian is confident Teona is “peaking at the right time” ahead of her bid for glory in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
As a daughter of the brilliant Arc hero Sea The Stars and Group One-winning mare Ambivalent, the three-year-old had plenty to live up to from day one – but Varian has never made any secret of the regard in which she is held.
She was no match for Snowfall in either the Musidora Stakes at York or the Oaks at Epsom – but having returned from a break with a Listed success at Windsor last month, Teona turned the tables to inflict a shock defeat on Aidan O’Brien’s filly in the Prix Vermeille.
The pair are set to renew rivalries over the same course and distance at ParisLongchamp this weekend – and while the betting suggests Snowfall is expected to reaffirm her superiority, Varian reports his charge could not be in better form.
“Her credentials are solid – and she has had a fairly light campaign, having had an easy time through the summer,” said the Newmarket handler.
“She’s fresh and has not been over-raced – she seems to be peaking at the right time for a race like this.
“We’ve been very happy with her since the Vermeille.”
Teona will be bidding to become the seventh horse to win the Vermeille and the Arc in the same season, while four-time Arc-winning jockey Olivier Peslier will be in the saddle.
Varian is under no illusions about the task that lies ahead in Paris, with Teona a 25-1 shot with William Hill, but he is looking forward to the challenge.
He added: “It’s a great race with serious opposition, but I think she’s deserving of her place in the line-up- and hopefully her best days are still ahead of her.
“We can only worry about our filly and her condition, and we’re happy she’s going into the race in good shape.
“We want as good a ground as possible. The ground looks fairly safe up until the weekend, when there’s some uncertainty over the forecast.
“We’re obviously hoping the ground is good.”
There were no withdrawals at Tuesday’s second forfeit stage for the Arc, so 14 horses remain in contention before supplementary entries on Wednesday.
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Roger Varian is keen to keep all options open with Teona after the Prix Vermeille heroine returned to Newmarket on Monday evening.
The daughter of Sea The Stars was considered a serious Classic contender earlier in the year, amid reports of sparkling workouts on the Newmarket gallops.
But while there was plenty of promise in her third-placed finish behind Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York in May, she was a long way behind the same filly in the Oaks at Epsom the following month.
However, Varian has never lost faith in Teona – and after returning from a break with a Listed success at Windsor, she came of age in Paris on Sunday when turning the tables on Snowfall to claim Group One glory.
“She got back last night and seems fine after the race, so we’re very happy with that,” said the Bury Road handler.
“We’ve made no secret of the high regard we hold her in. Hopefully she’s a filly really going places now.”
While many were shocked Teona reversed previous form with Snowfall, Varian feels there were genuine reasons why she could not land a telling blow behind Aidan O’Brien’s filly earlier in the year.
He added: “She had a valid excuse at York, and a valid excuse at Epsom.
“At York she reared up in the starting gates, and then it turned into a four-furlong sprint up the home straight. She actually ran very well that day – making up ground on horses that were sprinting in front of her. You could see how she might get closer to Snowfall.
“At Epsom the ground was heavy, and I don’t think she’s a filly who can cope with that sort of ground.
“It took a while to get her back after running on that ground at Epsom, but she was fairly dominant at Windsor and showed what she was capable of on Sunday in Paris.”
What made the success all the sweeter for Varian is the fact he also trained Teona’s dam Ambivalent to win a Group One.
He said: “James Fanshawe texted me after the race to say congratulations and how nice it is to keep a Group One-winning line going. He also said it’s a sign that I’m getting on a bit! Maybe he’s right.”
The obvious target for Teona is a return to France for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the first Sunday in October – although she also holds alternative Group One entries over varying distances that same ParisLongchamp weekend as well as in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot later in the month.
Varian confirmed Europe’s premier middle-distance contest will be “seriously considered”, but he is in no rush to commit at this stage.
He added: “I haven’t had a conversation with the owner yet, but you’d have to consider the Arc if we’re happy with the filly over the next two and a half weeks and the ground looks like it will be fairly sound.
“I don’t think we’d entertain a very soft-ground Arc – I don’t think that would be her bag. But if the forecast and the ground is in our favour, and we’re happy with the filly’s condition, I’m sure it will be seriously considered.
“I think at the moment we keep everything on the table and don’t make any decisions, because we don’t have to. She’s got these big-race entries, so we don’t have to supplement her or anything like that, which means we can make these decisions late.
“The nice thing for us now is that she’s won the Vermeille and established herself as a top-drawer filly.
“I don’t quite know how the rest of the season will pan out for her. Some of it will be decided by things out of our control, like weather and ground, and some of it will be within our control.
“She’s won her Group One, so we don’t have to keep telling everyone she’s good – she’s proved it.
“Everything remains a possibility with a filly like that.”
Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, Varian is keeping his fingers crossed Teona will return in 2022, saying: “I haven’t discussed that with the owner, but I certainly hope so.
“She’s only just getting started. Her mother raced as a five-year-old, and there is no reason to think Teona won’t get better with age.”
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Teona shocked Snowfall as she pulled off an unexpected victory in the Group One Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp.
Roger Varian’s Teona had finished 28 lengths behind runaway Oaks heroine Snowfall when only 10th to her at Epsom back in June.
But she turned the Classic form round emphatically to gain her revenge – as 2-9 favourite Snowfall – who had also been sensational in winning the Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks – could finish only a length-and-a-half runner-up, and Teona (11-1) scored at the top level for the first time.
Snowfall, ridden again here by Frankie Dettori as she was at Epsom, was held up off the pace as her Ballydoyle stablemate La Joconde made much of the running – with Teona positioned in second by Olivier Peslier.
Dettori began to bridge the gap into the straight – but by then Teona – who had been her own worst enemy this season in terms of settling – had already made her telling challenge, and always appeared in control thereafter.
Snowfall had gone into her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trial as ante-post favourite for the autumn highlight over course and distance next month – but after this defeat, she was eased to 6-1 from 5-2 by Coral, who rate Teona a 16-1 chance and make Derby hero Adayar their 4-1 favourite. Paddy Power and Betfair went 4-1 about Snowfall from 9-4.
The surprise outcome vindicated the belief Varian has long expressed in Teona.
“Everything went smooth – I thought Olivier did a great job on the filly, and she settled well.
“She showed what she can do … what she’s capable of. We’ve always had massive faith in this filly, and we were disappointed how the first half of the season went for us.
“But we gave her time, and I’d like to thank the owner for being very patient.”
Teona had also finished third to Snowfall when they were both having their first starts of the season in the Musidora Stakes at York in May – but she returned to winning form, after her Oaks setback, to easily land a Listed race at Windsor next month.
Varian added: “She’s a big-framed filly, and maybe she’s just needed time. I trained her mother (Ambivalent), who was very good – (and) she didn’t win her Group One until she was an older filly.
“I think the family mature into themselves as they get older, so no doubt time has helped her.”
As well as the Arc, Teona holds entries over varying trips next month in the Prix de l’Opera and Prix de Royallieu.
Varian hinted, however, that the Arc is most likely – as long as the ground stays in Teona’s favour in Paris.
“Most importantly, (we must) make sure the filly is sound and healthy tomorrow morning – and see how she trains over the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“I’d like to hope those are options we can consider. I do think she’s a filly who appreciates a sound surface, so she’d want this sunshine to continue for another few weeks.
“I think a mile and a half is her trip. I’ll speak with her owner and the team at home, but she’s got all those options because we believed in her – and I’m so pleased she’s come good today.”
Peslier, a four-time Arc winner himself, gave Teona a vote of confidence too.
Asked if she could follow up in the Arc, he said: “Why not?
“I’ve had many winners (in the race). But each one is different – so if we have a chance to win another one, of course.
“If you don’t run, you never win.”
Dettori, meanwhile, felt the pace of the race had not suited Snowfall.
He said: “I found myself too far from the front end of the race, and Hollie Doyle, on La Joconde, didn’t go fast enough for my filly.
“The race turned into a sprint.”
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Richard Kingscote executed a perfect front-running ride as Solid Stone came out on top in the Sytner BMW Sunningdale & Maidenhead Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who was registering an eighth success in this Group Three event, Solid Stone was sent off a 9-4 chance in a four-runner heat after finishing fourth at Salisbury last time.
Sporting first-time cheekpieces, Solid Stone was sharply away for Kingscote, who opted to set his own pace with favourite Fancy Man tracking him throughout.
He was still bowling along with half a mile to run, but it turned into an exciting battle in the final two furlongs with Harrovian challenging on one side and Fancy Man on the other, but Kingscote had a bit up his sleeve and Solid Stone eventually prevailed by three-quarters of a length.
The jockey told Sky Sports Racing: “He deserved it, he’s been running well all summer.
“He’s done it well today. Sir Michael just reached for the cheekpieces and they helped us out at the two pole and he kept on rolling.
“It’s great to get a nice winner (for Stoute).”
Bruce Raymond, representing the winning owner Saeed Suhail, said: “He’s been working exceptionally well and Richard just suggested last time putting the cheekpieces on and I think they’ve made the difference.
“He always looks as though he would stay a mile and a half, but I don’t know, I’ll leave that to Sir Michael – he’s the engineer, if he doesn’t know it, it’s not worth knowing!”
Teona got back on the winning track in the Sytner BMW Sunningdale & Maidenhead August Stakes for Roger Varian and Ray Dawson.
The three-year-old has faced two tough tests this season in taking third behind Snowfall in the Musidora before finishing well behind that rival when 10th in the Oaks at Epsom.
Given a break since then, Teona was sent off the 3-1 joint-favourite for the extended 11-furlong heat along with Domino Darling and she eventually made easy work of beating her seven rivals.
She kicked clear when given the signal by Dawson, galloping home three and three-quarter lengths in front of Desert Encounter to register a first Listed success.
Varian said: “We had big hopes of her in the spring and it didn’t go her way in the Oaks trial or the Oaks, so we’ve given her time.
“Hopefully this is just the start for her now – it’s nice to get a Listed win and hopefully she can build on that now.”
Teona has a handful of entries in the coming weeks, including next month’s Blandford Stakes at the Curragh and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and Varian added: “We’ll see how she comes out of it.
“She’s well entered up so we have plenty of options over a mile and a half.
“I don’t think she will want the ground too soft, hopefully she comes out of this race well and we can look at something in September maybe.
“There’s hopefully next year as well. Her mum, Ambivalent, got better with age and this filly, hopefully the best is still to come.”
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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.
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.
“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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Roger Varian remains keen on a tilt at the Cazoo Oaks with Teona following her third-placed finish in the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York.
The daughter of Sea The Stars was second-favourite for next month’s Epsom Classic before her seasonal reappearance on the Knavesmire, having been well-backed during the spring on the basis of a wide-margin victory on the all-weather at Newcastle in November.
While she met with defeat in Wednesday’s trial – picking up minor honours behind the front-running Snowfall and the regally-bred Noon Star – Varian saw enough encouragement in his filly’s performance to suggest she merits her place in the Oaks field.
Teona pulled fiercely for her head in the early stages, but travelled smoothly into contention before being beaten just over four lengths.
Varian said: “It was a muddling race and not much of a trial, I don’t think, in terms of how it was run.
“We look at it as a trial – it wasn’t her main seasonal goal. It’s given her a day out and got some of the fizz out of her.
“When you’re a little bit fresh and keen and they’re going so slow up front, it’s very hard to win. I thought after they’d gone one furlong that she would struggle to win, but she shaped well and moved up nicely and will come on for the run.
“I should think that we’ll still look at the Oaks. I’ve lost no faith in her. She’s a very good filly and hopefully she’ll prove that in time.
“We put a line through the Musidora in terms of the result. But we learnt plenty, and it did her good to get a day out, so it wasn’t a complete loss.”
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Noon Star is among those looking to earn themselves a shot at Classic glory in the Cazoo Oaks in what promises to be an informative renewal of the Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York on Wednesday.
Sir Michael Stoute’s filly is certainly bred for next month’s Epsom showpiece, being a daughter of the brilliant Derby hero Galileo and top-class racemare Midday, who was beaten a head by Sariska in the Oaks in 2009.
Noon Star, owned and bred by the late Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation, has won two of her three starts to date – most recently impressing on her three-year-old debut in a novice event at Wetherby two and a half weeks ago.
With that form having been boosted by the subsequent Lingfield success of the fourth home Sherbet Lemon, Stoute’s charge is a general 8-1 shot for the Oaks on June 4, but will face a thorough examination at York, with Oaks second-favourite Teona among her rivals.
Teddy Grimthorpe, Juddmonte’s racing manager, said: “If you breed Galileo to Midday, you’re expecting and hoping to end up at Epsom in early June. That would be the aim of anyone, but obviously she’s got to prove that she’s a worthy candidate.
“Midday won twice at York – she won the Middleton Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks. She was only narrowly beaten by Twice Over in the Juddmonte International.”
Noon Star is one of two Juddmonte-owned runners in an eight-strong field along with John and Thady Gosden’s Senita, who wears a hood for the first time after finishing a disappointing last of seven on her seasonal debut at Newbury.
“She’s a work in progress really. She didn’t put it together at all at Newbury and was a little bit awkward throughout,” Grimthorpe added.
“John has always had a good opinion of her and this is a fact-finding mission to see where we are with her, but she does have talent.
“This will give us a good idea of where we are with both fillies – this is what these trials are for really.
“Sometimes you get surprised and sometimes you get disappointed.”
Roger Varian’s Teona makes her turf debut following two outings on the all-weather at Newcastle, finishing second on debut before bolting up by nine lengths on her second start in November.
Like Noon Star, Teona is also bred in the purple – being by Derby winner Sea The Stars out of Ambivalent, who won the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes in Ireland and the Group Two Middleton Stakes at York for the same connections.
Varian said: “She looks a very nice filly at home and we’ve always held her in high regard.
“She’s taken a while to come to herself this spring and I should think the run will bring her forward. That said, her last few weeks of training have been very pleasing.
“She’s a big, rangy filly. I trained her mother, who also took a while to come to hand, and Teona was never going to be a summer two-year-old – she’s all about this year and beyond.
“We like her a lot – it’s well publicised I think, the regard which we hold her in.
“This is a nice starting point and a lovely place to start. If she doesn’t win it’s not the end of the world, but we’d expect her to run well.”
Mystery Angel steps back up to Pattern class after impressing in the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket 10 days ago.
While the Nick Bradley Racing-owned filly is not currently entered in the Oaks, connections may consider supplementing should she come up trumps on the Knavesmire.
“She’s a filly who takes her racing very well and we’ll give it a good shot on Wednesday,” said trainer George Boughey.
“We’ll take it one step at a time. I’d say this is as good an Oaks trial as there is, on the pedigrees and the reputations of the two horses in front of us in the market (Noon Star and Teona).
“She would need to be supplemented for the Oaks, which costs the best part of £25,000. I think she would have to win at York to be considered for Epsom, I would say.
“She’s been a star for us and hopefully there’s more to come.”
The sole Irish challenger is Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall, who will be ridden by Ryan Moore.
The jockey told Betfair: “This Deep Impact filly maybe didn’t quite progress as expected from her maiden win, though she faced some tough tasks in Group One company. This trip is more in keeping with her pedigree, and I expect her to improve for it.
“There is nothing in here boasting a scary level of form as it stands, though Noon Star is a very promising filly and one I like, and she is race-fit, as is the Newmarket winner Mystery Angel. And Newcastle winner Teona is already second-favourite for the Oaks, I see.”
Aura (Andrew Balding), Glenartney (Ed Walker) and Quiet Assassin (Adrian Keatley) are the other contenders.
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Sir Michael Stoute’s Noon Star and the Roger Varian-trained Teona put their Cazoo Oaks credentials on the line in Wednesday’s Tattersalls Musidora Stakes at York.
A total of eight fillies will line up in the trial, which is a Group Three races in its own right so offers valuable black type.
Noon Star, who runs in the Juddmonte colours, is a daughter of brilliant mare Midday, a multiple Group One winner for Sir Henry Cecil, and she is by champion sire Galileo.
Third on her debut at Salisbury, she subsequently beat Hugo Palmer’s Ocean Road, who was placed in the Lingfield Oaks Trial, at Nottingham.
Noon Star gave some idea of just how good she might be when carrying a 7lb penalty to success at Wetherby on her seasonal bow, with Lingfield winner Sherbet Lemon back in fourth.
She will be ridden by Richard Kingscote, who was also in the plate at Wetherby.
Teona has been heavily backed for the Classic in recent days and Varian has had a degree of success in the trials to date.
The Sea The Stars filly was a nine-length winner at Newcastle when she was last seen in November.
Mystery Angel will aim to take another step up the ladder having won the Pretty Polly for George Boughey.
John Gosden runs Senita, another filly owned by Juddmonte, but well beaten by Hurricane Lane on her return at Newbury.
Andrew Balding’s Auria, the Ed Walker-trained Glenartney, Quiet Assassin from Adrian Keatley’s yard and Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall, not seen since she was confused with subsequent Guineas winner Mother Earth in the Fillies’ Mile, complete the field.
One the same card is the Group Two Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes which sees July Cup winner Oxted head a field of 12.
Following a fruitless trip to Saudi Arabia, Oxted finished a narrow second to David O’Meara’s Summerghand in the Abernant Stakes and the pair meet again.
Tim Easterby has high hopes for Art Power this season after the grey performed well in the top sprints last term as a three-year-old.
In a similar boat is Walker’s Starman, who only lost his unbeaten record at Ascot on Champions Day on soft ground.
Varian’s Jersey Stakes winner Molatham drops back to six furlongs having ended his last campaign over a mile, with William Haggas running Nahaarr.
Kevin Ryan’s trio of Brando, Emaraaty Ana and Queen Jo Jo, Richard Fahey’s Ventura Rebel, Karl Burke’s Lady In France and Saeed bin Suroor’s Final Song also run.
https://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/2.59397077-scaled.jpg12802560Geegeez Newshttps://www.geegeez.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/geegeez_banner_new_300x100.pngGeegeez News2021-05-10 09:58:392021-05-10 09:58:39Leading Oaks hopes clash in Musidora at York
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