Horses To Follow » Varenar


The Aga Khan colt Varenar was the one to take out of Sunday’s Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville for me. Drawn on the stands side in stall four, he was the only one of those who raced in the stands side group in the early stages to mount a challenge of any sort, and he deserves immense credit for that. You can never be certain exactly why a particular group fared poorly in a race. It can be down to the distribution of pace, and it can be down to pure coincidence, but it is, more often than not, attributable to the ground variance between one part of the track and another. In Sunday’s race, it is unlikely that Naqoos set too fast a pace on the near side, and the discrepancy in the groups was so pronounced so as to render it unlikely that it was down to pure coincidence. Six of the 12 runners raced up the near side with four of them, Naqoos, African Rose, Asset and Serious Attitude, really well fancied and entitled to go close on form, yet the best that any of the other five outside of Varenar could manage was Serious Attitude’s eighth placing. The six horses who raced down the centre of the track filled six of the first seven places, and Varenar was the only one who got among them.
The son of Rock Of Gibraltar travelled well to the 250-metre pole, probable best of all, including of those in the middle of the track. At that point, Christophe Soumillon moved him towards that group, obviously aware that that was where the race was going to develop, but he didn’t find as much as it looked like he would. The leaders on the far side got away from him a little before Varenar picked up and ran on well, finishing best of all. It is probable, given how the other five horses who raced on the near side finished, that the early part of the race was so energy-sapping for those on the near side that they didn’t have sufficient energy left for the end of the race. If that was the case, Varenar can be marked up significantly on this performance, given how well he finished to take fourth place, no more than a length and a half behind the winner King’s Apostle. He was a big price for this, but he was Alain de Royer-Dupre’s sole representative, and the trainer is not in the habit of over-facing his charges, so he obviously thinks a fair bit of this fellow. Varenar can be marked up a fair bit from the bare form of this, and he is interesting wherever he goes next.

9th August 2009