Defoe Takes Proven Path For Varian

Group 1-winning Defoe will make his UAE and 2020 debut when the 6-year-old gelding kicks off his season in Saturday’s Group 2 $350,000 Dubai City of Gold

DEFOE winning the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot in England.
DEFOE winning the Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot in England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum-owned Roger Varian-trained son of Dalakhani will follow the same path that the owner-trainer duo took with Postponed in his championship season as older horse in Europe, winning the same race Defoe will run in on Saturday prior to landing the Group 1 $6 million Longines Sheema Classic in 2016.

Currently rated 118, the grey gelding was last seen seven months ago in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot where he did not take to the soft ground and finished ninth of 11. He won his two previous starts in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes and Coronation Cup (G1), beating multiple Group 1 winner Kew Gardens in the latter.

"He's trained well at home and this has been the plan for a while," Varian said. "I'm happy with his condition. He arrived in Dubai Thursday morning, last week, and seems to have settled well in the international stables.

"He's a very different horse than Postponed, but he's a very straight-forward horse," he continued. "Nothing seems to faze him. He's a solid horse, even though he doesn't have quite the C.V. Postponed did when he came to Dubai. Hopefully, he satisfies us in the City of Gold and we can go on to the Sheema Classic."

A very different racecourse awaits him from his last two wins. While Ascot and Epsom are trying, undulating terrains with often more give in the ground, the 9-for-19 charge will contest a flatter and firmer track in Dubai.

"He's versatile ground-wise and has form on fast and soft ground," Varian concluded. "He should love the track at Meydan, being a left-handed flat track."

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