Roger Varian's Defoe looking to win first Group 1 race at the Grosser Preis von Bayern in Munich
Roger Varian is hopeful that today could be the day that Defoe lands his first top-level victory.
Despite finishing a disappointing 15th at last month’s Prix De l’Arc De Triomphe, the four-year-old has enjoyed a largely impressive 2018 Group 1 campaign.
After landing Group 3 and 2 wins at Newbury and Newmarket respectively, the son of Dalakhani finished third in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh before being pipped by Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution in the Longines Grosser Preis von Baden.
Today Defoe – equipped with a set of blinkers – is back on German soil ready to contest the Grosser Preis von Bayern in Munich (1.15pm), where Varian is looking for him to break his Group 1 duck.
“He enjoyed an excellent start to the year, winning at Newbury and Newmarket, and I loved the way he knuckled down when powering away with the Jockey Club Stakes here at the Guineas Meeting,” said the Carlburg Stables trainer.
“He then acquitted himself with credit in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, finding the trip too sharp on the ground, but he ran his race all the same.
“It was frustrating he did not bag a maiden top-flight win when just losing out to Best Solution at Baden-Baden, but that form looks better in retrospect with the winner having won the Caulfield Cup, and it would be hard to be disappointed in our horse, who is certainly worth his place in Group 1 company.
“There is not much between them on ratings in Munich, but I doubt there is a horse who could win a Caulfield Cup off top weight.
“We were in front of Iquitos and Windstoss at Baden-Baden and while we must concede weight to a pair of good-quality three-year-olds, I think we head out there with a favourite’s chance.
“I have equipped him with a set of blinkers to try and eke out a bit more and I am looking forward to running him.”
Closer to home, the weekend saw the two-year-old duo of Nausha and Lastochka – both piloted by David Egan – mark their debuts with victories at Newbury and Kempton.
Those wins raised the question of potential Classic campaigns in 2019 and while Varian is far from getting carried away, he has revealed that both fillies will be given the chance to demonstrate their credentials at that level.
“The two fillies won in contrasting styles but I was delighted with the performances of both,” he added.
“I loved the way Nausha travelled through the race and she was still firmly on the bridle at the two-furlong marker, despite having run a little keenly in the early stages.
“She is going to stay at least 10 furlongs and she could reappear in an Oaks trial.
“Lastochka probably contested a lesser race, with the first nine home tightly grouped, but she had plenty of ground to make up in the straight and she quickened up really nicely.
“She ought to get another two furlongs as well and, while it is too early to be confidently labelling either as a Classic filly, we will certainly dream about that route with them and give them the chance to prove their worth at that level in the spring.”