Postponed repays Atzeni's faith with stunning Juddmonte victory at York

JOCKEY Andrea Atzeni said that Postponed was the best in the business before York's Juddmonte International '“ and his judgment was more than vindicated by a classy win on the Knavesmire.

Postponed ridden by Andrea Atzeni wins the Juddmonte International Stakes.

Despite this multiple Group One winner dropping back in trip to a mile and a half, and concerns about the wellbeing of trainer Roger Varian’s horses following a reported virus in Newmarket, this five-year-old put up one of his gutsiest performances to date to illuminate day one of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

Taking up the running from the pacemaking stablemate King Bolete in the home straight, Postpone did veer towards the stands in the closing stages ­– but still had a length and a quarter in hand over Aidan O’Brien’s King George hero Highland Reel with the Yorkshire runner The Grey Gatsby a far from disgraced sixth.

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“He’s great, isn’t he?” eulogised Sardinian-born Atzeni who had told The Yorkshire Post yesterday that Postponed could be regarded as the best middle distance horse in the world if he prevailed in this Group One contest.

“A lot of people had doubts about him – I never had. He’s got too much class. I think people underrate him. I think he’s one of the best in the business we’ve seen for a while.”

Postponed is now 4-1 favourite with Leeds-based William Hill for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said: “Postponed has underlined his position as the best horse in Europe and it will take something special to knock him from his perch as favourite for the Arc.”

However the relief was plain to see on the face of Varian. “He’s an incredible horse. The team at home have done a fantastic job,” said the trainer who also indicated that the Arc in early October will be his stable star’s next assignment.

“We didn’t have long to get him ready. He wasn’t right three and a half weeks ago for the King George. He turned the corner two weeks ago. In the last seven days he looks to have blossomed. A week ago I wouldn’t have known if I was running him here.

“We’re not having loads of winners at the moment, so you’re never quite sure. I trusted in the horse’s condition and he delivered. I think it’s a turning point. I can see the signs in all the horses at home they are coming back to life and back to good health.

“I think it will be two or three weeks yet before we hit full stride, but come September we’ll be ready to roll.”

Postponed is no stranger to York – he won the Great Voltigeur Stakes over a mile and a half two years ago. Yet it is the hallmark of a champion that the colt has retained so much speed that he can drop back in trip and still excel over 10 furlongs in a race worth more than £900,000.

As for yesterday’s Betway-sponsored Great Voltigeur, the O’Brien-trained Idaho enhanced his claims for next month’s Ladbrokes St Leger with a cosy victory from stablemate Housesofparliament who made the running and proved hard to pass.

There was white rose success when Kevin Ryan’s Syphax swooped late and fast to collar Best Of Days and spring a surprise in the seven furlong Tattersalls Acomb Stakes under Jamie Spencer.

Hambleton-based Ryan clearly holds the two-year-old prospect in the highest of regard, with a potential trip to the USA on the horizon.

“He’s by Arch and he’s Breeders’ Cup eligible,” he said. “That’s not set in stone, but he is a very exciting horse.”

Another leading Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey struck with The Wagon Wheel, who ran away from the opposition to lift the Betway Nursery. “That was brilliant. I was delighted the way she did it,” said the Malton handler. “She surprised us first time how green she was. She’s obviously learnt from that and she’s a nice scopey type.”

Even though the David Griffiths-trained Duke Of Firenze was only second to the Atzeni-ridden Boom The Groom in the opening Symphony Group Stakes, the performance – and fast ground – should play to the strengths of the Bawtry trainer’s star sprinter Take Cover in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes later this week.