Postponed can handle Ebor drop

ROGER Varian is confident a drop in distance will not be an issue for Postponed in tomorrow's Juddmonte International, the opening day highlight of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

Winner of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Prix Foy at Longchamp last season for Luca Cumani, the five-year-old has continued in the same vein since switching stables.

After slamming his rivals twice at the Dubai Carnival, Postponed made a scintillating return to Britain in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and was set to go off as a red-hot favourite to defend his King George crown last month before a respiratory infection ruled him out.

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All but one of his eight career victories to date have come over trips of around a mile and a half, but Varian is relishing the prospect of seeing his stable star test his powers over two furlongs shorter on the Knavesmire.

“We are looking forward to dropping back to 10 furlongs and this race has been an objective of ours since the start of the season,” said Varian.

“He is a colt with terrific turn of foot and a high cruising speed. These attributes and the manner in which he has been winning over a mile and a half suggest that the drop back in trip shouldn’t be a problem. The nature of the track at York should play to his strengths.

“With five other Group One winners in the race, this looks a strong renewal but he seems fully recovered from the setback which ruled him out of the King George.

“He looks well and his work has been very pleasing.”

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Postponed is the star name in a 13-strong field which includes this year’s King George hero Highland Reel for Aidan O’Brien and the progressive Hawkbill who won last month’s Eclipse for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation. Yorkshire hopes rest with The Grey Gatsby who has been placed in the last two renewals of the Juddmonte.

Though Postponed is regarded as the best horse in Europe on ratings, and has winning course form at York after winning the 2014 Great Voltigeur Stakes, this year’s Juddmonte lacks the x-factor provide in recent years by the likes of Sea The Stars, Frankel and Golden Horn.

Indeed Golden Horn’s shock defeat to Arabian Queen 12 months ago is one reason why the 10-furlong contest lost its status as the pre-eminent Flat race in the world on official ratings.

Ante-post favourite Ivan Grozny is one of 63 horses still in contention for the Betfred Ebor at York on Saturday.

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The talented dual-purpose performer bolted up over hurdles at Aintree in the spring and while he was subsequently disappointing in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, he was not disgraced at Royal Ascot and has since won emphatically at Tipperary and Galway.

Ivan Grozny is one of two remaining entries to give Willie Mullins a second Ebor success after Sesenta in 2009, although Renneti appears unlikely to make the cut for the prestigious contest, with the safety limit set at 20 runners.

A formidable Irish contingent also includes the Tony Martin-trained pair of Heartbreak City and Quick Jack, who are guaranteed a place in the field.

The weights are now headed by Richard Fahey’s Suegioo, just ahead of Roger Varian’s Battersea and Kinema from Ralph Beckett’s yard. Malton trainer Brian Ellison is bullish about the chances of Seamour.