Saturday 19 January 2019

Classic duel in Dubai

Postponed looking relaxed and well in Meydan. Pic: racingpost.com
Postponed looking relaxed and well in Meydan. Pic: racingpost.com

Roger Varian is quietly confident Postponed will bounce back to his brilliant best for his defence of the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan.

The six-year-old won the Dubai City of Gold and this Group One last March before claiming further riches in Britain in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Juddmonte International at York.

Postponed suffered his first reverse of the campaign when only fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and he was also beaten on his return from a break in the Dubai City of Gold three weeks ago.

But Varian feels his stable star is now back at the top of his game. He said: "I'm very happy with how he came out of his last run and from what I've seen of him in the last few days, he looks liked the Postponed of old.

"He's tightened up for his run and I'm glad we got that run in. He's been in Dubai five weeks now and I think the weather has done him the power of good.

"I know he's a year older now, but the evidence of the last few days suggests he is back close to his best.

"He was a little bit rusty in the City of Gold, there's no getting away from that. But with him being a year older, he probably just wasn't as ready for that as he was last year.

"Certainly I'm much happier with him now than I was three weeks ago. He looks tremendous."

Postponed stars in a stellar field of seven runners.

Aidan O'Brien is double-handed with last year's King George and Breeders' Cup Turf hero Highland Reel and Yorkshire Oaks-winning stablemate Seventh Heaven.

O'Brien's son, Donnacha, said: "Highland Reel seems in great form and I think his form improved the whole way through last year.

"He won in America and was probably a little bit unlucky in Hong Kong. We're hopeful he'll run a very big race.


"Seventh Heaven was a dual Oaks winner last year and she's a very high-class filly. She could be very exciting for this year.

"She's in great form at home and sometimes fillies take less work than the colts.

"She's definitely ready to start off."

Ryan Moore rides Highland Reel and told Betfair: "I saw my horse was available at 5-1 earlier in the week and, at his best, it would take a good one to beat him.

"When he gets on the lead in these mile-and-a-half races he is difficult to stop, stall three is fine, and 9-2 is still probably a hell of a price, but the one doubt in my mind is that he wasn't at his best when fourth in this race last season.

"And we know what a long campaign he probably has ahead of him again. Jack Hobbs has prospects stepping back up to a mile and a half but I can certainly make a fair case for Seventh Heaven at the prices.

"I see she is 9-1, which surprised me. The combination of a smaller field here, and a bigger and wider track, plus a return to a mile and a half could really suit her."

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