With the stable in flying form, our resident tipster has his sights on a trio of Roger Varian-trained runners.
Roger Varian is training winners for win at present and he could be the trainer to follow at Haydock this afternoon, with both his runners looking to hold good chances.
The Newmarket-based handler does well with those horses he runs at the Lancashire track, with a 27% strike rate over the last five seasons for a £1 level-stakes profit of £23.25, and that improves to 33% (7-21) for his juvenile runners. His SPANISH CITY is therefore worthy of interest on that stat alone in the 6f maiden (2.40pm) and the son of Exceed And Excel is clearly held in some regard at home, judging by his entries in the Mill Reef Stakes and Group 1 Middle Park.
If he’s to justify those fancy entries, he ought to be up to landing this and should be a backable price too thanks to the presence of the race-fit pair of Kitaaby and Laughton, who have both shown promise. Any money for the pair of Tom Dascombe-trained newcomers would be significant too but the selection may be able to outclass them all under Graham Lee, who boasts a 26% strike rate on the stable runners since 2011.
Varian is enlisting the services of talented claimer Shane Gray for his PRIVILEGED in the 1m handicap for fillies run later on the card (4.40pm), with the jockey’s 3lb claim a possible factor. The three-year-old filly came good when winning at Chelmsford last time, having appeared not to handle the track when fourth at Carlisle previously, and that will have done her confidence the world of good.
The form of her second to Black Cherry at Goodwood back in May also catches the eye. The winner went in again next time out and is now rated 99, making the selection look very well treated indeed on a mark of 75, and the third Iconic has also won since. With the prospect of better to come after just five starts, it’s not too hard to imagine the daughter of Exceed And Excel making light work of her seven rivals, none of which appear to be progressing along the same lines.
Varian could also be on the mark at Sandown this evening with his MUQTASER, the mount of Dane O’Neill, fancied to shrug off top weight in the 1m2f handicap (7.25pm). The three-year-old finished third in a couple of decent Newmarket handicaps earlier in the season, when the stable was going through a quiet spell, and the handicapper has kindly left him on the same mark as for the last of those runs on Guineas day. He’s had a break since but it’s worth taking a chance on his fitness given the stable’s current purple patch.
Ralph Beckett’s Perrault looks the main danger and it was hard not to be impressed with the way he destroyed his rivals on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow, despite missing the break. However, he was fully entitled to win that day as a 2/7 favourite and this is considerably tougher. His trainer also made the post-race comment that “he’ll want a mile and a half”, which suggests he might be done for toe by the selection over this shorter trip.” Well, that’s the theory.