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Cape Byron aiming to be a July Cup contender for Roger Varian

Newmarket trainer Roger Varian is hoping that Cape Byron can take advantage of an open renewal of the Darley July Cup on Saturday (4.40pm).

The five-year-old won on two of his first three starts before going seven outings without a victory.

However, he has ended the drought impressively in 2019, backing up May’s Victoria Cup triumph with a win in the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.

Cape Byron, trained by Roger Varian (13533797)
Cape Byron, trained by Roger Varian (13533797)

That has earned the son of Shamardal odds of 9/2 (third favourite) to land the Group 1 prize at HQ’s July Course and Varian believes he deserves to be in such company.

“He ran a number of good races last year when the cards did not fall quite right for him,” said the Carlburg Stables trainer.

“He is probably a faster horse than we gave him credit for. With the way he won the Victoria Cup, he looked like a horse that would be just as comfortable – if not more comfortable – back down a furlong where the field went quicker.

“We were very confident that the Wokingham was set up lovely for him and it proved to be that way.

“It was the most dominant display of his career.

“We had made a July Cup entry for him a number of weeks before Ascot, so we had it in our mind he could be very good over this trip.

“It is a big jump from the Wokingham to the July Cup, but he is rated 113 and he will not look out of place in the line up.”

“I do not think any of us know if he can win a July Cup, but he certainly deserves his place and we will see how it goes. He is streetwise, he has been around and he is pretty uncomplicated.

“There are some nice horses in the race but you could argue that there is not a sprinter stamping his authority on the division at the moment.

“It is an open year and a good year to have a runner in the race.”

Cape Byron spearheads Varian’s team for Newmarket’s three-day July Festival, which also includes Group 1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes hopefuls Qabala and Mot Juste.

After winning the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket Qabala finished third in the 1,000 Guineas, only to disappoint in the Irish equivalent three weeks later.

Mot Juste, meanwhile, has not featured since finishing 13th in the 1,000 Guineas.

“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Qabala in Ireland and I would be happy to put a line through that effort,” he said.

“Mot Juste has not been seen since the 1,000 Guineas when she got knocked sideways at one point – she is better than that.”

Varian also has one of the market leaders for Saturday’s bet365 Bunbury Cup in Spanish City, who when the Journal went to print was the 8/1 third favourite. The six-year-old has won four times from 18 starts.