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French and Irish possibilities for Zeyaadah

Roger Varian is considering options in France and Ireland for Zeyaadah following her gallant effort in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

A leading hope for the Cazoo Oaks in early June, the daughter of Tamayuz disappointed at Epsom, but has since bounced back with fine performances both in victory and defeat.

After claiming Group Three honours in Newcastle’s Hopping Stakes, Zeyaadah returned to the top level on the Sussex Downs and produced a career-best to fill the runner-up spot behind Lady Bowthorpe.

A delighted Varian is hopeful there is more to come from his filly in the second half of the season.

He said: “She’s in great form and either the Prix de la Nonette at Deauville later on in August or the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh in September will be the next target.

“I think she’s a top filly and she finished second to probably the most popular winner of the year at Goodwood!

“After the usual puff of the cheeks after finishing second in a Group One and not winning it, even we got wrapped up in applauding the winner.

“She (Zeyaadah) got beaten by a good one and showed in her running that she’s deserving of her place in good races.

“Hopefully her best days are still ahead of her.”

Zeyaadah back on track with Hoppings success

Zeyaadah put her Oaks disappointment behind her as she produced a telling late challenge to win the William Hill Hoppings Fillies’ Stakes at Newcastle.

Roger Varian’s Shadwell Estate filly could finish only a distant 13th of 14 behind the impressive Snowfall when sent off a single-figure price in the Epsom Classic at the start of this month.

But she put her career back on track in this Group Three, down to 10 furlongs on Newcastle’s Tapeta surface.

Jim Crowley held Zeyaadah up well towards the rear, and still had just one horse behind entering the straight. But she quickly made ground and overhauled eventual runner-up Technique in the final furlong to win more comfortably than the official margin of a head suggested – justifying her status as 15-8 favourite.

Crowley told Sky Sports Racing: “It just didn’t happen (for her at Epsom) – the rain tipped down that day, and she’s obviously a top-of-the-ground filly.

“She did win on it (heavy ground) one day at Newmarket, but I think she’s better on a better surface.

“Obviously today, I just had to sit a little bit. I was drawn eight, and didn’t really want to go three wide the whole way.

“They went a nice pace, and the horse in front was a nice target to aim at.

“She won pricking her ears. I thought she was going to go and win well, but she was probably just keeping a little bit up her sleeve as well.

“It’s a nice confidence-booster for her today, and I hope she’ll take a step forward again.”

Earlier on the card, Caspian Prince proved yet again that age is no barrier to him as he won the William Hill Gosforth Park Cup Handicap for the second successive year – at the age of 12.

Mick Appleby’s veteran sprinter showed his customary early dash, and the necessary determination too, to get to the front from the equally speedy Ornate and then hold off all challengers for a popular 12-1 victory under 3lb claimer Theodore Ladd.

Caspian Prince was winning for the second time in succession, and 23rd in all, on his 114th appearance – resisting the late thrust of May Sonic by a neck, with outsider Blue De Vega another three-quarters of a length back in third.

Ladd said: “It’s the biggest winner of my career so far.

“Last year, he actually sat second – which is unlike Caspian Prince. But that Ornate (third 12 months ago) has such early toe, so if you take each other on you burn each other out.

“Mick said to me ‘if that Ornate wants to go on, don’t get in a battle with him – and he’ll come home strong at the end’.

“I’m absolutely over the moon.

Stephen Louch, who co-owns Caspian Prince with Rutland trainer Appleby, added: “Words can’t describe him really – he’s taken us to some fantastic places.

“He’s 12 years old, and he’s still running like he’s four. He’s coming up against some cracking horses today – that was a really tough race.

“We won it last year. But to come back and win it twice, against good opposition and 12 years old, he is amazing.

“He just loves racing. A horse will fall out of love with racing at one point in his life – (but) he just seems to love it, and thrives on it.”

There was drama in the opening Three Mile Handicap, in which Ben Curtis suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder while riding a finish on Henry Spiller’s Crack Regiment.

The 5-1 shot collared favourite Tarroob to be first past the post by a head  – and he kept the race after a stewards’ inquiry, despite carrying the runner-up right in the closing stages with Curtis unable to take corrective action.

The winning jockey was clearly in pain and dismounted on pulling up, however, and had to give up his three remaining rides on the card.

Oaks trio giving Varian plenty of cause for optiism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zeyaadah out to prove Classic potential

Zeyaadah puts her Classic credentials on the line in the Weatherbys ePassport Cheshire Oaks at Chester.

The Roger Varian-trained filly is currently a 20-1 chance for the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom next month, after winning all her three starts as a juvenile.

The form of her latest success in the Listed Montrose Stakes at Newmarket in October was given a timely boost when runner-up Mystery Angel won the Pretty Polly Stakes over the same course on Sunday.

Angus Gold, racing manger for owners Shadwell Estate, said: “She’s a nice, tough filly – and she had a good year last year.

“She won on heavy ground at Newmarket and had to grind it out to do so.

“She’s taken a bit of time to come to herself this spring. Roger himself said we’ll see her looking better than this, but she’s done enough to start.

“Obviously the Oaks is approaching. We need to see if she’s up to that class or not.”

Among Zeyaadah’s six opponents on Wednesday is Darlectable You – a full-sister to three-time Group One winner Too Darn Hot, who bids to get off the mark at her third attempt.

The daughter of Dar Re Mi, trained by John and Thady Gosden, finished second on her debut at Newcastle in December and was then collared close home when beaten a neck at Newbury on her reappearance last month.

“She ran well at Newbury first time out this year,” said Thady Gosden.

“When she hit the front she just got a bit lonely, as you would expect.

“They’ve obviously had plenty of rain at Chester, which she will hopefully be able to handle.

“It’s a good race. You’ve got Mark Johnston’s filly (Dubai Fountain), who was fourth in the Fillies’ Mile, and Roger Varian’s filly, who won the Montrose.

“It’s a tough race, but our filly is in good form and hopefully she’ll run well.”

Ryan Moore teams up with the Donnacha O’Brien-trained Nicest, who made a winning debut at Leopardstown in July and was fifth to Divinely in the Group Three Flame Of Tara Stakes at the Curragh on her only other start.

“Dubai Fountain is the obvious one to beat in here on her Fillies’ Mile fourth, and everything else has to step up considerably if she runs to that level,” Moore told Betfair.

“But there are some promising fillies against her, including the unbeaten but penalised Zeyaadah, and Nicest.

Ryan Moore will be on board Nicest at Chester
Ryan Moore will be on board Nicest at Chester (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Donnacha’s filly won a good maiden at Leopardstown on her debut and then shaped well in Group Three company next time, coming to win her race on the inner but possibly getting bogged down in the heavy ground.

“She has a great pedigree, being by American Pharaoh out of Chicquita, and this trip on hopefully a much better surface than the Curragh should suit her well.”

Aidan O’Brien saddles five-race maiden La Joconde – while Fozzy Stack’s Ahandfulofsummers is a third Irish-trained runner, and Hugo Palmer’s Quenelle D’Or completes the field.

George Boughey is hoping Navello’s relative experience works in his favour in the ICM Stellar Sports Lily Agnes Conditions Stakes.

“Drawn one, hopefully he’s quick enough away from the gates to hold his position,” said Boughey.

“It would be a fast-enough five for him at Chester. If we can get forward I think he can run a very big race.

“He’s been to Bath, Wolverhampton and Brighton and is the most experienced horse in the race.

“He seems to have improved even in the weeks since his last run. We’d be hopeful of a big run.”

Moore is wary of a draw in stall five for his mount, the Richard Hannon-trained Armor.

The No Nay Never colt justified favouritism when making a winning debut at Doncaster last month.

“I know it was only a four-runner race, but he was professional and determined for me when winning over five furlongs on quick ground at Doncaster on his debut,” said Moore.

“Like a lot of yards I guess, the stable normally leave a lot to work on with their juveniles, so it was encouraging that he could get the job done at the first time of asking.

“We all know the score with the draw here, and the need to start quickly, and I could have got better than stall five, clearly.

“It will be different ground for him here, too.”

Other previous winners in the seven-runner line-up are David O’Meara’s Beauzon, Tom Dascombe’s Devious Angel and Lucy Lulu from Roger Fell’s stable.