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Postponed powers to glory in International

17 Aug 2016

Roger Varian's star performer bounces back from setback to win showpiece at York

The Postponed camp celebrate their triumph in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York. Picture:

Postponed cemented his position as the best middle-distance horse in Europe with victory in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York today.

It was the third QIPCO British Champions Series race that the five-year-old had won, following on from his victories in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes last year and this term’s Investec Coronation Cup.

And he has not finished yet, with owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid confirming the horse who has forged such a great bond with Andrea Atzeni will stay in training next year.

Roger Varian, his trainer, reflected upon one of the highlights of his career after Postponed had beaten five other Group 1 winners just 28 days after he had been diagnosed with a respiratory infection that demanded rest and careful observation. The trainer had also been enduring a lean spell.

Despite the concerns, the Kremlin House stable star was the 15-8 favourite to claim his first top-level success over a mile and a quarter and moved sweetly behind his pacemaker King Bolete and this year’s King George hero Highland Reel.

Highland Reel did his best to make a race of it, but Postponed always looked to have the upper hand and was good value for his one-and-a-quarter length success under Atzeni.

The unlucky horse was William Haggas-trained Mutakayyef, who was coming to challenge when carried right by the winner late on. That almost certainly cost him second place.

Varian said: “He’s an incredible horse. The team at home have done a fantastic job. A week ago I wasn’t sure if I’d have been running or not, but the last week he really showed he was back to himself. I can’t tell you how much satisfaction I feel.

“Coming into the race we’ve been struggling with some of the horses and struggling to get consistent performances over the last six weeks.

“We had to pull him out of the King George, which was heartbreaking at the time, so to come back and win this races is one of the highlights (of my career). It’s joy, it’s relief – it means everything.”

Bookmakers offer odds of around 6-1 about Postponed winning the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and Europe’s premier middle-distance prize – this year run at Chantilly – is now likely to be his next port of call.

“He was in Dubai in March, he was at Epsom in June, we’ve appeared in August and the Arc might not be his last run of the year, so I’m not sure we necessarily need a prep run,” said the trainer.

Aidan O’Brien said of Highland Reel: “He’s in all the Australian races but he could go somewhere before that. Timing-wise, I’d say the Irish Champion (Stakes, Leopardstown) could be the one, but there’s also a race in America, the Sword Dancer (Saratoga), he could run in.”

Haggas said he was “chuffed to bits” with Mutakayyef and was left lamenting the fact that his challenger was hampered late on.

Sir Isaac Newton and Exosphere ran well in fourth and fifth, but the rest – including The Grey Gatsby, Hawkbill and Wings Of Desire – were well beaten.