Roger Varian is weighing up his options for Saturday's Sky Bet York Stakes.
Last Updated: 22/07/14 3:34pm
Roger Varian is weighing up the options for his two possible runners in Saturday's Group Two Sky Bet York Stakes.
The £100,000 contest has been won by Group One heroes Twice Over (2011) and Mukhadram (2013) in recent years and the 2014 renewal has attracted 12 entries.
Newmarket handler Roger Varian has entered Farraaj (4/1 favourite with the sponsors) and Cameron Highland (20/1).
Farraaj has been at the top of his game this season, recording a victory over the course and distance last time out in the valuable John Smith's Cup on July 12. Prior to that, the five-year-old triumphed in a competitive 10-furlong handicap at Epsom Downs in June.
Cameron Highland is a dual Listed winner over 12 furlongs at Windsor, but could only finish sixth on his seasonal return in a Listed contest, also over 12 furlongs, at Newmarket on June 28, behind the David Simcock-trained Sheikhzayedroad (8/1).
Varian, who also captured the 2012 renewal of this race with Sri Putra, commented: "Both Farraaj and Cameron Highland are possible runners in the Sky Bet York Stakes.
"Farraaj has come out of his win in John Smith's Cup absolutely fine and looks well. It was a good effort that day - a solid, weight-carrying performance.
"Cameron Highland has got to rediscover his best form but he has been working well since his comeback at Newmarket. He has been a good horse in the past so hopefully he might come back to that."
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor has won the Sky Bet York Stakes twice, courtesy of Stage Gift (2007) and Kirklees (2009) and has three entries this year. They are Sharestan (12/1), successful in the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown in May, recent Sandown Listed scorer Windhoek (11/2) and Tasaday (5/1), who could make her British debut having won Group races in France plus a Listed contest in Dubai.
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Fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby could be represented by Long John (10/1), a Group One winner in Australia who finished third on his British debut in the Group Two Summer Mile at Ascot on July 12.
There is a possible challenger from Ireland in Parish Hall (Jim Bolger, 10/1), winner of the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in 2011 and successful over 10 furlongs on his latest appearance in the Group Three Meld Stakes at the Curragh yesterday, July 20.
Secret Gesture (Ralph Beckett, 5/1) was second in the Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs in 2013 and captured in a 10-furlong Listed event at Nottingham on June 16,
Turkish Group Two scorer Producer (Richard Hannon, 14/1), Group Three winner Danadana (Luca Cumani, 8/1) and Zambucca (Gay Kelleway, 20/1), successful at Group Two level in South Africa, complete the possible line-up.
Saturday's card also features the £50,000 Sky Bet Dash, a fiercely competitive six-furlong handicap which has gone to top-class sprinters La Cucaracha (2005), Hawkeyethenoo (2010) and Hoof It (2011). The 2013 winner Tropics finished runner-up in the Group One Darley July Cup at Newmarket this season.
Dual course scorer Mass Rally is among 44 entries for the Sky Bet Dash. The seven-year-old was last seen finishing a good fourth to Maarek in the Group Two Duke Of York Stakes over the course and distance in May.
Hoof It (Mick Easterby, 18/1), who captured the prize in 2011, is also engaged along with Ascot victor Discussiontofollow (Mike Murphy, 9/1) and Line Of Reason (Paul Midgley 8/1 joint-favourite), who is seeking a hat-trick following wins at the Curragh and York.
Other notables include the lightly-raced Muthmir (William Haggas, 8/1 joint-favourite), Eastern Impact (Richard Fahey, 18/1) and decisive Chester winner Kimberella (David Nicholls, 11/1).
Michael Shinners, Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, commented: "We look set for what promises to be another fascinating renewal of the Sky Bet York Stakes, with several proven pattern-race performers among the entries.
"Farraaj captured probably the most competitive 10-furlong handicap of the season over the course and distance under a massive weight last time out and he is our 4/1 market leader.
"The Sky Bet Dash is all set to be as competitive as ever, with several proven handicappers up against some unexposed sorts."