Varian's big-money purchase Willie John ruled out of 2,000 Guineas
Willie John, a big-money buy for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum after an impressive winning debut at Yarmouth last season, has been ruled out of the Qipco 2,000 Guineas with a minor setback, trainer Roger Varian reported on Thursday.
Formerly trained by William Haggas, Willie John switched to Varian after changing hands for 1.9 million guineas in February and was being treated as a Classic contender by his new trainer before suffering the setback.
As well as his entry at Newmarket on May 5, the son of Dansili also holds entries in the Investec Derby at Epsom and the Irish Derby at the Curragh, but instead Varian is now focusing on top-level targets during the second-half of the season.
Quoted on his website, Varian said: “Willie John has impressed me in his work this spring, galloping in the manner of a high-class colt.
"While it’s unfortunate he has incurred a small setback at this stage of the season, this will not keep him out for too long and we look forward to mapping out a Group-race programme for him from July onwards.”
Willie John had been a general 33-1 shot for the Guineas and as big as 50-1 for the Investec Derby.
Jim Bolger's Verbal Dexterity, winner of the National Stakes last season and a general 16-1 chance for the 2,000 Guineas, will also miss the race following a setback.
The son of Vocalised is also entered in the Dante, Irish 2,000 Guineas and Irish Derby.