Roger Varian: Saint-Cloud winner enters 2,000 Guineas picturePICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Vert looks another star for Varian after romp
Report: France, Thursday
Saint-Cloud: Criterium International (Group 1) 1m, turf, 2yo colts & fillies
ROGER VARIAN, who enjoyed big-race success when stable star Kingston Hill won the St Leger in September, looks like he has another classy grey on his hands after Vert De Grece hacked up in the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on Thursday.
Formerly trained in Ireland by Joseph Murphy, who saddled the son of Verglas to finish second to the promising Gleneagles in the Group 2 Futurity Stakes in August, Vert De Grece was having his first start for Varian and his first in the colours of Britannia Thoroughbreds I and could not have been more convincing.
He quickened impressively under Umberto Rispoli to beat the John Gosden-trained Johnny Barnes with German outsider Sherlock third.
Michael McGowan, travelling head lad, representing Varian, said: "He hasn't been with us that long and the boss gave him a bit of time to settle in.
"The race has come a bit quick for him really but he's got him in good shape.
"I think he handles soft ground but when we arrived it was heavier so the [good] weather has definitely helped. The form obviously stacks up and he's shown that Gleneagles run was no fluke."
Some top horses have won the Criterium International – most notably subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners Dalakhani and Bago – and Paddy Power were quick off the mark with a Classic quote for Vert De Grece for next season, going 20-1 for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas. Betfred are 25-1.
As well as winning the St Leger with Kingston Hill, Varian has captured two important juvenile races with Cursory Glance and Belardo winning the Moyglare Stud Stakes and Dewhurst and in Vert De Grece has another exciting prospect for 2015.
Also on Thursday
Saint-Cloud: Prix de Flore (Group 3) 1m2½f, 3yo+
FATE (Alain de Royer-Dupre/Stephane Pasquier) continued the run of success for trainers absent overseas, after getting the verdict in a three-way photo ahead of Bocaiuva and Sparkling Gem.
The first three all came from well off the pace, reflecting extra credit on fourth-placed Regardez.
The Ralph Beckett-trained daughter of Champs Elysees was the only one of those ridden more prominently to figure in the finish.
Royer-Dupre, who is in California to oversee the preparation of Breeders' Cup Mile candidate Veda, has shown plenty of patience along with owners Sven and Carina Hanson with the lightly-raced five-year-old.
Fate was reversing form with Sparkling Beam after the pair had finished first and third here at the beginning of the month.
Pasquier said: "She is a very good mare but she finishes off some races better than others. I rode her a little more prudently on her most recent comeback run than the time before and that probably meant she had a bit more left in the locker today."
Saint-Cloud: Prix Perth (Group 3) 1m, 3yo+
FLAMINGO STAR (Waldemar Hickst/Alexander Pietsch) made the most of an inside draw and his favoured soft ground to make nearly every yard.
The winner was largely ignored at 21-1 by local pari-mutuel players, despite having handed George Baker's consistent Boomshackerlacker a three-length defeat in a Dusseldorf Group 3 at the beginning of the month.
Pinturicchio came out of the pack to claim second for Elie Lellouche while the William Haggas-trained Graphic was another to finish well, missing out on third place by just a neck under Ioritz Mendizabal.
"He is 10 kilos better on soft ground and that has made the difference today," said Pietsch.