The injury and subsequent retirement of Postponed was a huge blow for Roger Varian and his team, but he remains a trainer to follow with an eye-catching strike rate.
Postponed was the yard’s flag-bearer and a multiple Group 1 winner. Transferred by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid from the care of Luca Cumani prior to the 2016 season, the horse became one of Europe’s finest over middle-distance trips. He took the Coronation Cup at Epsom and then won the Juddmonte International at York. His injury at the start of this season would not, in normal circumstances, be career-ending, but as a six-year-old the decision was made to call it a day.
Such blows are common-place in racing, and Varian’s yard has responded with a storming run of success. This Summer’s campaign has been launched from a new home at Carlburg Stables on Newmarket’s Bury Road. Formerly Clive Brittain’s yard, the move from Kremlin House Stables took place in January, and the transition has proved a smooth one.
Varian had enjoyed many happy and successful years at Kremlin House, formerly as assistant to Michael Jarvis. His own introduction to racing began as a 13-year-old, when riding out point-to-pointers for Alan and Lawney Hill, who lived nearby. He hoped to become a National Hunt jockey, and indeed moved to Josh Gifford’s stable as a conditional. A fall and injury to a wrist ended hopes of a career in the saddle and set him on the road as a trainer.
Varian will be hopeful that the stunning facilities at the new yard, which include; 140 boxes, numerous horse-walkers, an equine swimming pool and a newly-refurbished outdoor trotting ring, will aid the team’s expansion and further top-level success. The trainer will be keen to add to those 12 Group 1 victories and the Classic success of Kingston Hill in the St Leger of 2014.
The backing of owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid is sure to play a huge part in the continued success. He owns the stables Ajman Princess, and the four-year-old daughter of Teofilo was an impressive winner at Goodwood recently. She’s finished runner-up in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot last Summer, and will now be aimed at winning a Group race, starting with the Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock in a few weeks’ time.
Connections also have a nice prospect in the three-year-old Colt Fujaira Bridge. Runner-up to Barney Roy as a juvenile, the son of Sea The Stars is expected to run in the Dee Stakes at Chester tomorrow, and could prove an interesting outsider in the field. He’s a light-framed nice moving sort, who may well be suited by Chester, and could run far better than his odds suggest.
Madeline was an expensive purchase, and is a juvenile filly likely to make her debut at Ascot tomorrow. By Kodiac, out of a Marchand De Sable mare, she could be one for Royal Ascot next month, and looks to have the pedigree to make an impact.
Flavius Titus is another juvenile likely to start out at Ascot this weekend. He’s by outstanding sprinter Lethal Force, out of a Pivotal mare. Another with the pedigree to impress, we’ll soon see if he has the talent to back-up the breeding.
Sheikh Ahmed is another significant owner who has numerous talented thoroughbreds at the yard. Nezwaah has the class to win at Pattern level, as she showed last Summer when winning a listed event at Newcastle, before chasing home the talented So Mi Dar at Yarmouth. The daughter of Dubawi is set to run in a Group 2 at York next week.
Connections also have several juveniles with Varian, that look to have huge potential. To Wafij is a powerful looking Colt by Kodiac out of an Indian Ridge mare. He won a strong looking maiden on debut at Yarmouth last time. Clearly bred to sprint, his entries suggest he’ll be campaigned quietly initially, though he’s clearly talented.
Ennaadd is another listed winner with sights set on Pattern success. The four-year-old son of King’s Best, was unlucky in the All-Weather final last month, and more recently was runner-up at Ascot in a listed event. Fast ground suits this fella, and a flatter track over seven-furlongs or a mile may prove ideal.
With a new stable giving fresh impetus, Roger Varian must shrug off the disappointment of losing Postponed. And a 30% strike-rate suggests he’s doing exactly that.