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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Varian's Masaarr heads strong British challenge in Desmond Stakes

Roger Varian: sends over Masaarr for Group 3 assignment
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7.20 Leopardstown
Invesco Pension Consultants Desmond Stakes (Group 3) | 3yo+ | 1m | ATR

Roger Varian has secured the services of Ireland's champion jockey Colin Keane for Masaarr, who achieved the most important of his three career wins when landing a Listed event at Deauville on his most recent start 16 days ago.

Varian said: "Masaarr responded well to first-time blinkers when winning at Deauville and that looks a good piece of form for Listed level.

"He has trained well since and the track, trip and ground will suit. This race looked a logical next option for him."

Custom Cut was the most recent British-trained winner of this event when he scored in 2014 and his trainer David O'Meara is represented in this year's contest by Escobar, who is entering Group-race company for the first time this season.

Formerly trained by Hugo Palmer, the three-time winner won a handicap for O'Meara at Haydock in June and the trainer said: "Escobar is in good form and ran well in the Golden Mile at Goodwood last time when he didn't get much luck in running. We're hopeful of a good run."

Successful with Alexios Komnenos a year ago, Fozzy Stack runs Zihba, winner of the Listed Amethyst Stakes over the course and distance in May and off the track since finishing eighth in the Irish 2,000 Guineas later that month.

Stack said: "He had a bout of colic on the evening of the Guineas, so we've given him time. He seems in good order and this looked a good place to start him back."

Cougar Mountain: won this race for Aidan O'Brien in 2015

Aidan O'Brien, who last won the event with Cougar Mountain in 2015, is represented by St Patrick's Day and Threeandfourpence.

St Patrick's Day wore blinkers in his two races in the US last year and has them back on for his third start since joining Ballydoyle.

"St Patrick's Day seems in good form," said O'Brien. "He was a bit disappointing last time but we think and hope he'll leave that behind him. It's less than two weeks since Threeandfourpence ran at Goodwood and, as he's a lazy colt, we're using blinkers to help wake him up."

Pincheck and On The Go Again – a Listed winner over the course and distance early in the season – were in action at Cork on Saturday when they ran second and last (of seven) in the Listed Platinum Stakes.

While the Bill Farrell-trained Xenobia, winner of the Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse last month, will be bidding for a second Group 3 victory.

Zorion, a Listed winner over the course and trip in June, represents Jim Bolger and completes the line-up.

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Masaarr responded well to first-time blinkers when winning at Deauville and that looks a good piece of form for Listed level
E.W. Terms
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