Varian believes that Farraaj can have major say in Sunday’s Hong Kong Cup

Roger Varian is confident that Farraaj can find the necessary improvement to play a leading 
role in Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin.

The Newmarket handler speaking on Tuesday, issued an upbeat bulletin regarding the chances of the five-year-old, in the Group One mile-and-a-quarter contest.

This weekend’s assignment will be the second race in succession that the son of Dubai Destination has been tried at the top level after he finished third in the Group One Longines Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington last month.

“Although I have not seen him since he run in Australia he is thriving in his training,” said Varian. “I have spoken to Andrea (Atzeni) a couple of times, and when I spoke to him on Tuesday he said he was really bubbling and that had a good feeling from the horse.

“He has got to improve as the race is stronger than the one in Melbourne and he needs a career best performance but he should certainly have a chance of finishing in the frame.”

Among his opposition in the race, which in the past has been won by the likes of Ramonti, will be multiple Group One winner Cirrus Des Aigles.

Despite the level of form the eight-year-old gelding brings to the table, the Fordham Road trainer feels Sunday’s test will present the best opportunity for his charge to topple him.

“He has got a few pounds to find with Cirrus Des Aigles and he would probably 
struggle to win against him in Europe but the fast ground will help bring him much 
closer together with the other top level horses,” said Varian. “He is in a better place for whatever reason this year as last year was not so good. This year he has stepped up a level and that may be down to him maturing.

“When he won at Epsom he gave Air Pilot who has gone on to win a Listed race, a stone and a two-and-a-half length beating.

“Although it was only a Class Two handicap I thought he would not have looked out of place in a Group One as he was in the form of his life.

“If he is back to that well being he is not without a chance.”

While the focus this weekend will be on Farraaj, Varian also had news of his Dubai Dewhurst Stakes winner Belardo who features prominently in many markets for next year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

“Belardo is wintering well and he looks like he is getting stronger and maturing nicely at this stage,” said Varian.

n In last Thursday’s Journal it stated that Charming Thought won the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes when it should have said the Middle Park Stakes.