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Roger Varian eyes Gordon Stakes for Third Realm

A trip to Goodwood for the Gordon Stakes is next on the agenda for Roger Varian’s Cazoo Derby fifth Third Realm.

The Sea The Stars colt got the better of subsequent Epsom hero Adayar when landing the Lingfield Derby Trial in May, but could finish only fifth when renewing rivalry in the premier Classic.

The Epsom form has been well advertised by the third home Hurricane Lane, who has subsequently landed both the Irish Derby and the Grand Prix de Paris – and Varian is hoping his charge can get back on the winning trail on the Sussex Downs.

“Third Realm is on schedule to run at Goodwood in the Gordon Stakes,” said Varian.

“The Derby form looks very good. I thought it was a good race at the time, and it will be interesting to see how the winner (Adayar) fares next weekend in the King George (at Ascot).

“Two furlongs from home, it didn’t look like Third Realm was going to be near them (at Epsom), but he stayed on well and did well to get as close as he did – having not really handled things very well.

“I think he’s got a bright future.”

Zeyaadah (left) got back on track at Newcastle
Zeyaadah (left) got back on track at Newcastle (Tim Goode/PA)

Varian has also made plans for two of his most exciting fillies, in Zeyaadah and Eshaada.

Zeyaadah disappointed in the Oaks at Epsom, but has since bounced back with a Group Three success at Newcastle, while Eshaada was last seen filling the runner-up spot in the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The Newmarket trainer added: “Zeyaadah is in good form and training nicely. She could go to Goodwood for the Nassau Stakes.

“Eshaada is likely to wait for York – we might look at the Yorkshire Oaks with her.”

Varian retains faith in Third Realm

Roger Varian is confident Third Realm still has a “big future” ahead of him after finishing fifth in the Cazoo Derby.

The Sea The Stars colt beat Charlie Appleby’s Epsom hero Adayar when claiming top honours in the Lingfield Derby Trial last month.

That form was turned on its head on the day that mattered most, but Third Realm was not disgraced in finishing fifth – and his trainer believes there is plenty to look forward to.

“I think if everything had gone smoothly for Third Realm at Epsom, the closest he would have been is third or fourth. The winner won very well and looked a class above,” said Varian.

“I thought Third Realm ran with great credit. For a horse we thought would go round Epsom like a motorbike, he didn’t really handle things – he got a bump in the first furlong and just looked a little bit out of his comfort zone.

“He was a bit keen over the top of the hill and got a bit unbalanced round Tattenham Corner. For most of the way you couldn’t see him finishing in the frame, but he stayed on very well inside the final furlong and a half and nearly got fourth.

“I thought it was the run of a horse with a big future, but at no stage of the race watching did he look quite comfortable to me.”

Third Realm retains an entry in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on Friday week.

Asked whether that Group Two contest is a possible target, the trainer added: “I would have thought that would be too soon, but we’ll see how he is this week – we don’t have to decide now.”

Save a Forest performed best of the trainer's runners in the Oaks
Save a Forest performed best of the trainer’s runners in the Oaks (John Walton/PA)

Varian saddled three runners in the Cazoo Oaks last Friday, with outsider Save A Forest faring best of them in fourth.

“It was no surprise to us that Save A Forest ran well. She’s improved with every start and she would have been suited by conditions,” said the Newmarket handler.

“I think she was a shade unlucky not to be closer. With all the field going over to the far rail, and her being on the rail but towards the rear, it meant up the straight she didn’t have a clear run. She ran great.”

Zeyaadah and Teona both ran below expectations, with Varian of the opinion both floundered in the rain-softened ground.

He added: “Zeyaadah ran like a non-stayer on that ground. She moved into it nicely in the straight and didn’t get home. I think it’s a misconception that she wants soft ground – I think she wants much better ground.

“Teona definitely wants better ground. Her mother Ambivalent liked it fast, and I should think she will be most comfortable on a faster surface.

“We’ll give her a bit of time – she’s a big filly. I’ve not lost faith in her. I’ve always touted her to be a nice filly and I’m sure she will be, but we won’t rush her back to the track.

“We’ll take a view on her in a couple of weeks’ time and see how she’s come out of the race.”

Varian looking forward to ‘cool dude’ Third Realm playing his part in intriguing Derby

Roger Varian is confident Third Realm possesses all the tools required to make his presence felt in a “fascinating” renewal of the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on Saturday week.

The multiple Group One-winning trainer has surprisingly saddled just one previous runner in the premier Classic, with subsequent St Leger hero Kingston Hill filling the runner-up spot behind Australia in 2014.

In Third Realm Varian believes he has finally unearthed another legitimate contender, with the Sea The Stars colt having earned himself a shot at Derby glory with victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial earlier in the month.

“I did think he’d go and run a nice race (at Lingfield), but he’d only had two starts – and when you jump from a novice straight into a Derby trial, often they come up short because it’s a big ask on a horse and they’re hard races to win,” said the Newmarket handler.

“Having trained horses long enough and been disappointed often, I don’t think you ever go into those races too confident, but I really liked how he trained between Nottingham and Lingfield and I was obviously delighted with how it panned out and the ability he showed.”

While Third Realm passed the post with just over a length in hand over Adayar at Lingfield, Varian feels the winning margin underestimates his superiority to his rivals on the day.

He added: “He came down the hill very well. I think what I was really impressed with was the ease with which he took himself into contention – the visual impression he gave me at the bottom of the hill was that he just looked the best horse in the race.

“When he got to the front he probably got a bit lonely and he had to dig deep in the end, but it was only his third start and I thought if David (Egan) had waited longer and produced him with a furlong to run, he might have won even more impressively.

“I think he’s got an outstanding attitude for a race like the Derby. He seems to conserve energy – he’s not a flashy worker at home and just does what you ask him to.

“He wasn’t distressed after Lingfield in any way and his recovery was very quick. He’s got a very relaxed way of racing and I think that’s vital in these big races.

“We’re still to learn whether he’s got the engine to bring home the Derby, but I think he’s got the mind for it.

“A lot of the boxes you want ticked going into the race he ticks. We’ve been very happy with his training since Lingfield – Andrea (Atzeni) actually rode him on Wednesday morning in his last serious bit of work and was very impressed with the horse.

“We’re very much looking forward to the day. He’s a relaxed character and a bit of a cool dude, so I would be hopeful he’ll handle whatever Epsom throws at him.”

Third Realm is a best-priced 14-1 in a Derby market headed by Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition.

Roger Varian has high hopes for Third Realm
Roger Varian has high hopes for Third Realm (Joh Walton/PA)

Others in the mix include Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Mac Swiney, the promising John Leeper and Dante winner Hurricane Lane.

Varian said: “I think it’s a fascinating Derby and a very good Derby. Time will tell, of course, but if you look at the horses coming from Ireland and the horses in Newmarket you could make a case for different reasons, it looks intriguing.

“We’re delighted to be involved in it. I think it’s a Derby that if I wasn’t involved, I’d be super excited to watch, because there are lots of different types of horses in the mix.

“I truly believe the Derby is one of the most iconic races our industry across the globe has on offer. It will always be the pinnacle of the test of a horse, the ability of a horse, the jockey’s ambition and the trainer’s ambition.”

Derby plans coming together for Roger Varian trial winners

Roger Varian is planning an English/French Derby double with Classic trial winners Third Realm and El Drama.

Third Realm is on target for Epsom on June 5 after winning the Lingfield Derby Trial, while Dee Stakes scorer El Drama will head to Chantilly for the Prix du Jockey Club the following day.

Varian gave a positive update on his Classic-chasing pair.

Third Realm impressed in the Lingfield Derby Trial
Third Realm impressed in the Lingfield Derby Trial (John Walton/PA)

“We’re very pleased with Third Realm,” said the Newmarket handler.

“He hasn’t put a foot wrong since Lingfield so he’s on course for the Derby and we hope he trains smoothly over the next fortnight or so.

“El Drama is on target for the French Derby. That has been the plan since Chester and remains the plan.

El Drama (left) swoops to conquer at Chester
El Drama (left) swoops to conquer at Chester (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We’re very happy with him as well.”

Varian introduced a potentially exciting three-year-old colt in Bashosh at Leicester on Monday evening.

The full-brother to Group One winner Nezwaah looked a bright prospect when pulling away in the closing stages to beat Thaler by four lengths in a seven-furlong maiden, with the third horse 16 lengths further away.

“He won nicely and we were very impressed,” said Varian.

Bashosh looks an exciting prospect judged on his debut win at Leicester (Keith Hamer/PA)

“We thought he would run a nice race, maybe seven furlongs would be a bit sharp for him but we hoped he’d run well. I’m very pleased he did that and he looks to have a future.”

Varian compared Bashosh to Nezwaah, who also made her racecourse debut at the age of three and gained her biggest success in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh as a four-year-old.

“He’s a similar type. They were both late developing,” he said.

“I think this horse will make progress throughout the summer and be a good prospect for this summer and next summer as well.

Bashosh's illustrious sister Nezwaah winning the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in 2017
Bashosh’s illustrious sister Nezwaah winning the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in 2017 (Niall Carson/PA)

“I’m sure he’ll stay a mile and a quarter. I think the softly-softly approach will be the right one. He took a long time to get organised to make his debut.

“The big fancy three-year-old races are upon us now so there’s no rush with him. He can take all summer to learn his trade and hopefully he’ll be the type for a nice race during the second half of the season, with one eye on next year as well. I don’t think we’ll over-face him in the short term.

“He’s a horse we like and we will try to manage his career accordingly.”

Third Realm states Derby case with impressive Lingfield verdict

Third Realm threw his hat into the ring for next month’s premier Classic at Epsom with an impressive display in the Novibet Derby Trial at Lingfield.

Fourth on his sole juvenile appearance at Kempton in November, the son of Derby hero Sea The Stars made a successful reappearance at Nottingham last month to earn himself this step up to Listed class.

Ridden with restraint for much of the near mile-and-a-half journey by David Egan, the 14-1 shot was switched wide to mount his challenge rounding the home turn and quickly reeled in the leaders to grab the advantage.

The giant 6-5 favourite Adayar did his best to close the gap, but Egan always looked in control in front and Third Realm was ultimately good value for the winning margin of a length and a quarter.

Varian said: “It goes without saying we’re delighted with that performance today.

“We thought he’d run well. It’s the nature of the business that you’re cautiously optimistic when you’re going from a maiden to a recognised trial, but it isn’t a surprise – he’s a colt we think a lot of.

“He won nicely at Nottingham. I was worried about the ground, to be honest, but I thought if he handled conditions he’d be well up to running a nice race.”

Paddy Power reacted to the victory by cutting the winner to 10-1 from 100-1 for the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on June 5.

Varian added: “I’ve yet to speak with the owner (Sheikh Mohammed Obaid), so we’ll not set anything in stone just yet and most importantly we need to see how the horse comes out of today’s race.

“He ticks a lot of the boxes (for Epsom) in that he’s won a recognised trial, it looks like he’ll get the trip and he’s won on good to firm ground at Nottingham and in pretty testing conditions today.

“He’s a neat, well balanced colt who ought to handle the undulations of Epsom.”