ROGER VARIAN made a smooth transition to Carlburg Stables in 2017, producing a personal best season that he is aiming to improve on in 2018.
The Newmarket handler set a career-best seasonal best tally of 109 domestic winners and bagged two Group 1 prizes with Ajman Princess and Nezwaah.
Varian outlined some of his leading chances for the 2018 flat season.
“Defoe had a very good year and is certainly one we are looking forward to. I think he is a little bit stronger and is in great form.
“He flopped in the St Leger, but he was not quite right after the race. We still hold every hope he could emerge as Group One contender this year.
“We would have to be thinking looking at 10-furlong and mile-and-a-half races. He can race beyond a mile and a half, as he was an impressive winner of the Geoffrey Freer.
“He could possibly start in the John Porter at Newbury, failing that he could start over 10 furlongs in the Gordon Richards Stakes.”
“I was pleased with Zabeel Prince at Doncaster and he will improve massively for the run. I think he was fit enough, but only to the level where I thought there would be a good chunk of improvement to come.
“I personally think the Bet365 Mile at Sandown might come too soon and I’m not going to rush him. I would happily go straight to the Lockinge as he goes well fresh. I think he can have a very good year.
Altyn Orda, who runs at Newmarket on Wednesday:
It was a great way for Altyn Orda to break her maiden in the Group Three and I think the form is solid.
“When she was second on her second start, the winner (Bye Bye Baby) won a Listed race in Ireland a few days later, so there was plenty of substance to her form.
“She could line up in something like the Nell Gwyn, with something like the 1000 Guineas in mind.
“Narella came to me after the Marcel Boussac. She had a long journey from Germany to France for that race and I don’t think that was her running in the Marcel Boussac. I think she is better than that.
“She has done well through the winter. She is not the biggest, but she is a real athlete. She could run in a Guineas trial.
“She ought to stay beyond a mile, but she won her Group Three over seven and probably warrants looking at the mile races initially.”
Laugh A Minute:
“I love Laugh A Minute. I think he will get seven furlongs, but he proved how effective he was when he came back to six and a half for the sales race at Doncaster.
“We will probably start him over six furlongs and if he has got a Royal Ascot target it will either be the Commonwealth Cup or the Jersey. He might start in the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot, as it is a stiff six furlongs.
“Masaar is a lovely horse and I like him a lot. I don’t quite know his programme yet, but he could start in a conditions race at Kempton on Saturday.
“I think he is one of my better three-year-olds and he looked good in two starts as a two-year-old. He could be a Jersey horse. I don’t think he will be racing beyond a mile.”
“He is a good horse. I thought he was very unlucky in the Hardwicke. I won’t run him beyond a mile and a half again, I’ve done it twice and he has got beaten twice. He is a mile-and-a-half horse and is very likely to start out in the Buckhound Stakes at Ascot.
“He will have an entry in the big mile-and-a-half races, last year he showed a liking for Ascot and I would like to take him back there for the Hardwicke. He has not got many miles on the clock, but he is very talented.”
“He is a four-year-old that has only run three times, but he has won two of his three starts. He was very impressive at Leicester at the end of last year, beating Sir Dancealot. He could well be a nice horse.”
“She hasn’t run for a long time, as she got injured after her win, but she is a nice filly. I thought she was good before her race at Yarmouth and I liked how she ran. I was gutted I couldn’t run her again last year. I think she has got a bright future.
“She is quick and I don’t know whether she will stay a mile, I think we will be starting her over six or seven. I think I will start her fairly softly with her and see where we end up in the summer with her. She is tough.”
“She is not the biggest, but she is very strong. I think she has done well through the winter. She could possibly start in the Fred Darling Stakes. She is entered in the English and French 1000 Guineas and I’d be confident that she would get the mile.
“You can put a line through her run in America. She had a wall of horses in front of her throughout the race and was one of the unlucky stories around that tight Del Mar track.
“We hope she can have a good year at three, but she had the mould of a filly to try get the best from her last year. Regardless of what she does this year she enhanced her value last year as a broodmare, but hopefully she can add to her CV this year.”
“He is a very nice horse, but I don’t know at what level. He is into his faster paces and I’ve not been disappointed with him. The owner would like him to run in the Guineas, but he has only run once and I don’t think he can go straight to the Guineas.
“It is likely he will run in one of the Guineas trials, either the Craven or the Greenham. I don’t know how good he is, but as of yet I’ve not been disappointed in what I’ve seen.”