The multiple Group One-winning trainer has surprisingly saddled just one previous runner in the premier Classic, with subsequent St Leger hero Kingston Hill filling the runner-up spot behind Australia in 2014.
In Third Realm, Varian believes he has finally unearthed another legitimate contender, with the Sea The Stars colt having earned himself a shot at Derby glory with victory in the Lingfield Derby Trial earlier in the month.
“I did think he’d go and run a nice race (at Lingfield), but he’d only had two starts – and when you jump from a novice straight into a Derby trial, often they come up short because it’s a big ask on a horse and they’re hard races to win,” said the Newmarket handler.
“Having trained horses long enough and been disappointed often, I don’t think you ever go into those races too confident, but I really liked how he trained between Nottingham and Lingfield and I was obviously delighted with how it panned out and the ability he showed.”
While Third Realm passed the post with just over a length in hand over Adayar at Lingfield, Varian feels the winning margin underestimates his superiority to his rivals on the day.
He added: “He came down the hill very well. I think what I was really impressed with was the ease with which he took himself into contention – the visual impression he gave me at the bottom of the hill was that he just looked the best horse in the race.
“I think he’s got an outstanding attitude for a race like the Derby. He seems to conserve energy – he’s not a flashy worker at home and just does what you ask. He’s a relaxed character and a bit of a cool dude, so I would be hopeful he’ll handle Epsom.”
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