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Varian respectful of Coronation Stakes threats to Elmalka

Varian respectful of Coronation Stakes threats to Elmalka
Varian respectful of Coronation Stakes threats to Elmalka

Roger Varian is aware of the dangers that lurk in a strong field for the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, as Elmalka looks to add another big race to her CV after landing Classic glory at Newmarket.

The Kingman filly went from last to first under Silvestre de Sousa on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket to land the 1000 Guineas by a neck from Porta Fortuna at odds of 28-1, with Ramatuelle a further short head back in third.

Varian’s charge was beaten into third on her seasonal reappearance in the Fred Darling at Newbury, but was only half a length in arrears of the Marco Botti-trained Folgaria and stepped forward from that at Headquarters.

Varian opted against sending her to the Irish Guineas won by Fallen Angel in favour of a break ahead of the Royal meeting.

Folgaria, Porta Fortuna and Ramatuelle reoppose from Newmarket, but Varian is hopeful his charge is in top condition.

Varian said: “We weren’t tempted to go to Ireland, as she’d had two fairly quick runs, and she’s training lovely. She looks great and she seems to be getting stronger. She’s not a flashy worker, but I don’t mind that.

“She was a bit green at Newbury, and arguably at Newmarket too, but she’s looking a bit more complete now and there’s no reason to think Ascot’s round mile won’t suit. We are excited about running her.”

Fallen Angel had disappointed at Newmarket before winning the Irish Guineas, and while she is an absentee after a training setback Aidan O’Brien’s Opera Singer, who was third at the Curragh, won three times as a juvenile and is a major contender following what was a delayed seasonal reappearance.

Varian added on Sky Sports Racing: “We believe her best performances are still ahead of her and they might need to be. Opera Singer was the champion juvenile filly of Europe last year and she ran very creditably in the Irish Guineas when by all accounts she was massively in need of the run, so you’d have to respect her.

“It might need a stronger performance from Elmalka to what she produced at Newmarket to topple that filly, but it’s not just Opera Singer, it’s a field stacked full of quality fillies.

“Hopefully she can improve a pound or two and if she does she should be bang there. I sure she’s sharper now than before the Guineas, but the way she finished there suggests she could stay beyond a mile at this stage and her performance this week will determine that.”

James Doyle
James Doyle will be back in the plate on Elmalka (Mike Egerton/PA)

James Doyle takes over from De Sousa on Elmalka and is keen to make up for missing out on Classic glory.

Doyle said: “I rode Elmalka in her first race of the season, the Fred Darling at Newbury, and she ran a really good race in third, looking a bit unlucky as she got trapped on that stands rail.

“Silvestre rode her in the Guineas, when I was required in France, and she clearly bounded forward for the run at Newbury. It was obviously hard missing out on a Classic win, but there will always be days like that and you just have to take the rough with the smooth.

“Her work at home is workmanlike, but that’s just her. She looks great and she’s done well physically since the Guineas, where it probably helped being out the back with the other main contenders at the finish. I think the track and the race will suit her.”

Opera Singer
Opera Singer was third in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh (Brian Lawless/PA)

O’Brien has been delighted with how Opera Singer has come out of the Irish Guineas and with the focus on Ascot believes she will be in peak fitness.

The master of Ballydoyle told Racing TV: “We are very happy with her and she is a filly who is not an exuberant worker. She was only in work four weeks before the Curragh and really if she had finished mid-div we would have been really happy.

“We knew if we were thinking of coming to Ascot she would have to have a run and I was surprised with how well she ran really.

“She has been in good form since and everyone has been really happy with her. Her work has been nice and obviously we’re looking forward to seeing her again.

“She could do anything and she could get much further than a mile. So, obviously it is our second run this time and Ryan (Moore) will probably be a little bit more confident in her fitness this time. She is a big, straightforward filly really.”

Francis-Henri Graffard has preferred Royal Ascot to the French Oaks with Rouhiya and will take his chance with the surprise French 1000 Guineas winner.

Graffard said: “I’m very pleased with the condition of the filly and it’s a logical entry after her French Guineas win and she will be suited by the fast ground.

“I didn’t want to step her up in trip, so I didn’t want to run her in the Prix de Diane and I trained her for the Coronation.”

Oisin Murphy won the Coronation Stakes on Alcohol Free
Oisin Murphy won the Coronation Stakes on Alcohol Free (David Davies/PA)

Oisin Murphy, who struck three years ago aboard Alcohol Free, rides Ramatuelle for the first time and expects Christopher Head’s filly to be right up there at the business end of the race after finishing third in the Guineas in her first go at a mile, when at one stage she looked all over the winner.

Murphy said: “The Coronation is a climbing mile the whole way, but there is a bend. Alcohol Free was a very fast filly, like Ramatuelle, and she won the race on slow ground.

“It’s very competitive, with the Guineas winners and Opera Singer, but Ramatuelle was very good at two and she’s had a great preparation since the Guineas. The Newmarket run puts her right in the mix even though she didn’t win.”

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