All aboard the Varian bus to Epsom as Third Realm hits top gear at Lingfield
Roger Varian's Derby fortunes are rather like the bus syndrome, nothing for ages and then two or even three come along at once.
The Newmarket trainer landed his second recognised trial in the space of just two days for the Cazoo-sponsored Classic when Third Realm put himself in the Epsom picture with a decisive win over Godolphn's market leader Adayar in a contest won by subsequent Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in 2019.
Just like Thursday's Dee Stakes victor El Drama, the winner was sporting the colours of Varian's main backer Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and plenty were impressed as he was cut to 10-1 (from 100-1) by Paddy Power for Epsom as a result.
Given a patient ride by rising star David Egan, the 14-1 outsider of six was settled well off a pace set by Ballydoyle second string Carlisle Bay, but he loomed large on the outside on the home turn and the result was not in doubt once he was asked for his effort in the straight.
Egan knows all about big winners having ridden Mishriff to success in the Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic, and he feels Third Realm has all the attributes for Epsom even if the ride may go to the owner's retained jockey Andrea Atzeni.
He said: "He may have been the outsider of the field, but going down the semi-back straight I had it in my mind I was going to win. He gave me a great feel all the way around. I had to jump him out quick as I was drawn on the outside, but there was a nice pace which helped. I thought he showed a nice turn of foot on the home bend but, fair play, he stayed on well up the straight.
"He's a top-class horse and it's hopes and dreams at this point, but there's no reason he couldn't run in a Derby."
Winning owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid won this race and the Derby with High-Rise in 1998, and Varian said: "I thought we'd come here and run well, but you never know as we were running off the back of a win in a novice. He's worked well since then and this was a little bit of a toe-in-the-water exercise, but I'm delighted.
"He's in the Derby and has won a recognised Derby trial and looks like he'll handle Epsom as he's a neat well-balanced horse and he ticks a lot of boxes. I would say there's a fair chance he could run at Epsom, but we'll chat to the owner. We also have Royal Champion to run in the Dante at York next week so we'll see."
Trainer Charlie Appleby said of the runner-up: "Adayar has gained some more experience and was well clear of the third and is a possible for the Derby. We'll see how Hurricane Lane fares in the Dante next week before we finalise plans."
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