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Newmarket trainer Roger Varian proved right after Defoe wins Coronation Cup at Epsom

Roger Varian had always been bullish with regard to Defoe’s Group 1 credentials, and the five-year-old proved the Newmarket trainer right in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.

The Sheikh Mohammed Obaid-owned colt, who had previously been placed in three top-level races before, was considered to be one of the outsiders on this occasion as an 11/1 shot.

However, under jockey Andrea Atzeni, he stormed through in the final furlong to beat favourite Kew Gardens and Ryan Moore by a half a neck.


For Carlburg Stables’ Varian it provided him a second winner of the race, following on from Postponed’s success of three years ago.

“On his day he has looked like a Group 2 horse, and his last three or four runs perhaps have not quite measured up to his summer form of last year, but I said beforehand that I did not think he has ever been better,” said the trainer.

“I am so happy for his owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, who is a great supporter and who has been very patient, and of course so happy for the team at home who are doing a great job.,

“I am delighted with the result – it is fully deserved for the horse and we will really enjoy it.

“I was fairly relaxed watching it because I thought, well, we could run first three or four, and it was a bit different to watching Postponed, when he was even money and expected to win. As the race developed I thought Defoe had a real chance of winning.”

And Varian, who has now won 17 Group 1 races, had further reason to celebrate at Epsom thanks to Matching Green, who completed a quickfire 44/1 double for the trainer when he landed the Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap.

The five-year-old is likely to swerve Royal Ascot, with Varian having other plans in mind.

“He has won a handicap by a length pushed out and his future for now will be in handicaps,” said Varian. “Mountain Angel probably will not go to Royal Ascot as I don’t think there is a race for him. He will probably deserve an entry in the John Smith’s Handicap at York following that performance.”