Aljamaaheer: has finished third on two sprint starts this seasonPICTURE: Getty Images
Varian: Aljamaaheer can turn around Ascot form
SWITCHING Aljamaaheer to sprint distances this season has worked well so far, and trainer Roger Varian thinks the five-year-old has more improvement to come in Saturday's Darley July Cup.
The sprint division is packed with stars this season, and while Varian accepts landing a big prize will be tricky, he believes Aljamaaheer has a chance of turning around form with his Diamond Jubilee conquerors Slade Power and Due Diligence as he continues to adapt to his new discipline.
Aljamaaheer won the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot last season, but has been dropped back in trip for 2014, finishing third in the 6f Group 3 Abernant Stakes before occupying the same position at Royal Ascot.
Varian said: "He has got a length and three-quarters to make up on Slade Power, it's a tough division and we have got to turn the form book around.
"But, without fishing for excuses, I still think that it is fair to say that he still has another couple of pounds worth of improvement in him.
"Paul Hanagan rightly said that we spent the whole of last year trying to get him to switch off [over a mile]. He is still adjusting to new race conditions and this is only his third try at sprinting.
"He is in very good condition at the moment and we really want to try and bag one of these top races with him. He wore blinkers last time and I think that they helped a little bit so he will wear them again."
A 7-1 chance for the July Cup, Aljamaaheer is the leading British-trained runner in the ante-post market, with Slade Power a top-priced 3-1 favourite.
The going for Newmarket's three-day July festival, which starts on Thursday, was described on Monday as good to firm, with sunshine and showers forecast.