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Roger Varian a 1-2 in the Nell Gwyn Stakes
Newmarket 16.4.19 Pic: Edward Whitaker

One thing you can rely upon with Roger Varian
is consistency.

Since he started training in 2011, the trainer is
yet to dip below a 17 per cent strike-rate for a year, and in 2018 he had
a runner finish in the first three in 49 per cent of races contested.

However, despite coming just short of a year-best
total, Varian was unable to capture Group 1 glory. That is something he
hopes to rectify.

“At the moment we’re sort of lacking a proven
Group 1 runner,” said Varian. “It’s not like starting the year with a
Postponed or a Kingston Hill – the horses who you know you’ll fire at a
Group 1 straight away. But it’s a nice even spread across the divisions and
there’s some good early signs.”

The Classic-winning trainer has certainly started
the season in good stead, with Qabala roaring home in the Nell Gwyn Stakes
to put her at the top of the market for the 1,000 Guineas, while Sharja Bridge
gave Varian his third Doncaster Mile success on the opening day of the
Flat season.

Varian is hopeful that is a good omen for things to
come.

He added: “I think we’ve got a good crop of
horses across the board this year. There’s some nice older types, some exciting
three-year-olds, and some two-year-olds who are making an impression already.

“We’re aiming to better our record number of
winners of 109 in 2017, and I think we’ve had a good start this year. There’s a
long way to go, but it’s all about keeping them healthy and sound. If we can do
that we have every chance of recording our best year numerically and hopefully
we can find the quality as well.”

Stable profile

Yard Carlburg
Stables
Where Newmarket, Suffolk
Started training 2011
Finest hour Winning the Sheema Classic in 2016 with Postponed
Horses in Newmarket 174
Strike-rate last year 18%
Total prize-money 2018 £2,034,325
Members of staff 90-plus
Assistant trainer John O’Donoghue
Head lads Denise Deacon, Phillip Harman, Jimmy Thompson,
Howard Moss, Cecilia Winberg
Assistants Joanne Fowles, Mario Gussago, Oswald Wedmore
Jockeys Andrea Atzeni, David Egan, Jack Mitchell
Website varianstable.com

WINNERS IN BRITAIN

2018 106
2017 109
2016 97
2015 100
2014 78

PROFIT/LOSS TO £1 STAKE

2018 -127.45
2017 -117.57
2016 -141.34
2015 -21.60
2014 -80.70

Older horses

Barsanti
Seven-year-old gelding
Champ Elysees (sire) – Silver Star (dam)
Owner: Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
Form figures: 14542-
Racing Post Rating 118; Official Rating 111

He’s a lovely horse and a great character; one of the yard favourites. He’ll likely head to Ascot for the Buckhounds Stakes, a race he won last year, and he’s run well in two Hardwickes so we could go for that again. It’ll be those sorts of mile-and-a-half Graded races that we target. He’s capable of running well in them all year and can hopefully win one or two along the way.

Canvassed
4g Shamardal – Painter’s Pride
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
1-1
RPR 97 OR 97
He’s an exciting horse and we’re still learning about him. His pedigree suggests he’ll stay a mile and a quarter at least, but with the way he’s won twice over a mile, I think we’ll stick at that for now. He looks like he could be a potential high-grade performer, but we’ll have to wait until he does it on turf against better horses. But you can’t hide the fact he’s full of potential.

Contrive
4f Mastercraftsman – Sixpenny Sweets
Miss Yvonne Jacques
612111-
RPR 95 OR 91

She nearly won five in a row at the end of last season, and could start at Kempton in the Listed Snowdrop Stakes over a mile. She’ll have handicap and Listed options, but has run so well on the all-weather that we’d look to try and get some winning black type first.

Star quality

Defoe
5g Dalakhani – Dulkashe
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
13202-4
RPR 117 OR 117

Defoe: stable star could step up in trip

He was gelded at the end of last season as he
didn’t look to be building a commercially attractive stallion’s profile, and it
might elongate his racing career. He’s a good, solid horse and he’d be lovely
to have around for another two or three years. We’ll probably go
similar to last year with a tilt at the Jockey Club Stakes and perhaps the
Coronation Cup. At some point we might go up in trip.

Ibraz
4c Farhh – Wadaa
Hamdan Al Maktoum
3117-0
RPR 98 OR 93

He’s training well and I think he has more to offer. There’s a couple of Class 2 handicaps over a mile that I think he’d qualify well for so I’d like him to run at one of those. He’s a fun horse who’s still on the upgrade.

Laugh A Minute
4g Mayson – Funny Enough
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
430124-
RPR 111 OR 107

He’s in good form. He could have a 7f campaign, and there’s a lot of nice 7f races around, or whether we have to revert to 6f. He’s a bit delicate mentally though, and he needs everything right to happen for him on raceday. But he is very talented and I think he’s capable of mixing it in Graded company.

Pilaster
4f Nathaniel – Portal
Cheveley Park Stud
11138-3
RPR 109 OR 108

She’s been training really well and getting stronger, and I think she’s a good prospect for the year ahead. She has the option of reverting back to 1m4f fillies’ races, and the Pinnacle Stakes or Lancashire Oaks might come into consideration, or we might have a look at either the Yorkshire Cup or a 2m race at Ascot or Sandown, possibly leading into an Ascot Gold Cup.

Qazyna
4f Frankel – First
Nurlan Bizakov
13831-
RPR 97 OR 97

She’s a really nice filly, but unfortunately had an early season setback so it’s unlikely she’ll race before July. However, I think she’s capable of mixing it in Group company at some point.

Rasima
4f Iffraaj – Raushan
Nurlan Bizakov
525251-
RPR 104 OR 102
She’ll start off back at seven furlongs in the Fillies and Mares Championship on Good Friday. She’s a very versatile filly and isn’t short on speed, and I think she’ll be okay dropping back to that distance. She showed very good form over a mile and very good form at 1m2f, so she’s in for the Dahlia Stakes and Middleton at York. She’s a Listed winner and was kept in training to win a Group race, so hopefully she’s capable of doing that.

Sharja Bridge
5h Oasis Dream – Quetena
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
28471-1
RPR 115 OR 111
He’s in great form and came out of the Doncaster Mile well. He’ll likely go to Sandown for the Group 2 bet365 Mile and then hopefully perform well enough in that race to warrant a crack at something like the Lockinge.

Sharja Silk
4g Dubawi – So Silk
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
423232-
RPR 90 OR 83
I was gutted not to win a race of any description with him last year, but he’s from a family that get better as they get older and I think the gelding operation will have helped him. I’m hoping he could yet develop into a progressive middle-distance staying horse.

Shenanigans
5m Arcano – Ladylishandra
Ann Black, M Al Qatami and KM Al Mudhaf
236852-
RPR 102 OR 96
She’s been kept in training to hopefully get that winning black type and is training well. She looks terrific and could start either in the Snowdrop Stakes or possibly the Conqueror at Goodwood. I’m sure she’s capable of winning a stakes race, it’s just trying to find the right one.

Spanish City
6g Exceed And Excel – Annabelle’s Charm
Merry Fox Stud Ltd
142646-
RPR 101 OR 94
He was a bit unlucky not to win a big pot and although he’s six I think he’s still on the right end of the handicap. He needs fast ground to be at his best, and could possibly reappear in the Victoria Cup. I think he’s got the pace to return to six furlongs and might be the ideal sort for the Wokingham, but I’d be disappointed if he didn’t land on a big prize at some point in the summer.

Raceform Interactive stat

Since June 2015 Roger Varian has been
very selective in non-handicaps at Beverley. He’s had just ten runners in these
races, but six have managed to record a success, showing a profit of £9.56 for
a £1 stake. The winning sequence is currently three.

Willie John
4c Dansili – Izzi Top
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
1/17-4
RPR 101 OR 98
He’s a nice horse, but I don’t think he stayed when fourth at Doncaster last time, so his next race will likely be back over 1m2f. I think fast ground is the key to him. I’m not sure where his next run will be, but he’s lightly raced and we’re still working him out.

Zabeel Prince
6g Lope De Vega – Princess Serena
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
10/102-
RPR 113 OR 111
He’s done really well over the winter and I’ve not known a horse progress better. He’s a bit delicate and needs space between races, but is good on his day and could reappear in the Earl of Sefton. I think he’ll stay that trip, but failing that there’s a Group 2 in France at the end of the month. He likes cut in the ground.

Roger Varian watches first lot warm up in Newmarket

Three-year-olds

Apparate
c Dubawi – Appearance
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
2-
RPR 78 OR –
He’s done great over the winter and progressed nicely. I think he’s quite a nice horse and will stay well. He could possibly reappear in a couple of weeks at Nottingham in a 1m2f maiden.

Khuzaam
c Kitten’s Joy – Afraah
Hamdan Al Maktoum
21-
RPR 88 OR –

I don’t think he’ll be ready to run this season until May so we’ll have to see how he trains, whether he’s a horse to put straight into Group company or whether he’s one to run in a novice to get a bit more experience carrying a penalty. I think he’s a good prospect for the year to come, but I’m not sure of his optimum trip yet.

Mackaar
c Cape Cross – Albemarle
Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum
41-1
RPR 94 OR 92

He has handicapping options going forward but has some nice entries and could be a horse to run in the Blue Riband Derby trial. He wouldn’t want slow ground on the turf so if the weather holds up he could reappear as soon as then. He could also be one for the Lingfield Derby trial or even the London Gold Cup. I think he’s a smart horse and we’ll let him tell us the direction we take him in.

Mot Juste
f Distorted Humor – Time On
R Barnett
6411-2
RPR 104 OR 103
She did great over the break and I coming into the season I couldn’t have been more pleased with her. I think she’s a high-quality filly and if you take the winner out it was a perfectly good Guineas trial performance [in the Nell Gwyn]. I think she’ll be fitter come Guineas Sunday and she deserves to line up.

Dark horse

Nausha
f Kingman – Nazym
Nurlan Bizakov
1-
RPR 86 OR –
A three-year-old fillies’ conditions race at Kempton over a mile is a possible starting point and that might tell us if she’s one for a Guineas of some description, or possibly in the direction of running in an Oaks trial. Hopefully she’s Group class, but she’s only raced once so we need to learn a little more about her.

Prince Eiji
c Dubawi – Izzi Top
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
135-
RPR 103 OR 104
He was probably a bit mentally immature last year even though he won first time out, and I think he found the jump into Group company against him not in terms of ability but of where he was mentally. I still think he’s going to end up very nice and he’s showing more speed in his work.

Qabala
f Scat Daddy – Entwine
HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani
1-1
RPR 110 OR –
It was very pleasing she won the Nell Gwyn in the manner that she did. For a twice-raced filly we’ve confirmed her potential and we will monitor her progress over the next fortnight and take a view on the Guineas closer to the time – but seeing her win like that points us in the direction of the Guineas.

San Donato
c Lope De Vega – Boston Rocker
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
28111-
RPR 102 OR 105

San Donato: could head straight for the French Guineas

He has loads of speed and we think he’s going to stay beyond six
furlongs. He’s in the French Guineas and it might be that we take him straight
there and give him that opportunity to stay the mile. Thereafter, I suppose his
running style will dictate. He’s the type of horse who you’ll give an entry in
the Commonwealth Cup and St James’s Palace Stakes.

Surfman
c Kingman – Shimmering Surf
P Winkworth
31-
RPR 82 OR –
He looks great and I think he’s a very smart horse that is full of potential and hopefully one to look forward to. He’ll likely start in a novice, but I think he’s capable of contesting a Derby trial, whether it’s a Dante or something else, but he’s a high-class prospect.

Tauteke
f Sea The Stars – Tamarind
Nurlan Bikakov
31-
RPR 81 OR –
She beat a nice colt of Mr Gosden’s, So High, on her second start at Chelmsford, and I thought that was a good performance. She could go straight to an Oaks trial in May.

Three Comets
c Sea The Moon – Tickle Me Pink
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
3122-
RPR 95 OR 95
I think he’s one who is going to get better over time, but he’d have to improve on what he showed us last year on the track if he’s going to be contesting a Derby over here. He also has an entry in the German Derby and I suppose in the back of my mind he might be a horse to take to Germany. I’m not quite sure where the ceiling is with him.

Yourtimeisnow
f Charm Spirit – Maid For Winning
Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum
9118-0
RPR 102 OR 102
She ran too keen at Newmarket in the Rockfel Stakes at the end of last season and didn’t get home. I do think she’ll get 7f, but I don’t know if she’ll get the mile or not. If she doesn’t then she’ll drop back and have that 6f fillies’ programme over the summer. But I’m happy with how she’s training.

Two-year-olds

They’re a nice crop this year and I think
they’re quite forward as a group. I don’t think I’ll have a runner in April but
there may be a dozen or so to have in May, and hopefully there might be some
Royal Ascot horses in there. Among those standing out so far are Clan
Royale
 (c Siyouni – Ascot Family), who is a sharp one, and an
unnamed filly byMuhaarar out of Shimah, who has impressed me. A
couple for later in the summer are Solar Screen (c Golden
Horn – Screen Star
), who is the half-brother to Sheikha Reikha and looks a
nice prospect, and Magnetised (c Shamardal – Princess Nada).

Horse to follow

Surfman took the eye both physically, with plenty of scope, and in his racing style as a strong galloper when winning his maiden over the extended mile at Nottingham in the last week of the turf season. He had entered the notebook on his racecourse debut there the previous month as a likely improver over farther this season. He is a half-brother to a Group performer in the Godolphin filly Kitesurf and it will be no surprise if he follows suit this season. It is heartening to hear he is being talked of as a contender for a Derby trial.

Roger Varian Stable Tour

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