Jockey Andrea Atzeni looking forward to Epsom Derby and Oaks rides on Roger Varian's Surfman and Tauteke
Newmarket trainer Roger Varian is not due to make a final decision on Surfman’s Epsom Derby participation until later today, but were he to line up in Saturday’s Classic, jockey Andrea Atzeni is confident of being on board a live contender.
Having won a couple of novice races in Nottingham and Newcastle, the son of Kingman stepped up in class earlier this month in the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York, where he finished third to another Derby contender – Telecaster.
Varian was suitably impressed with the performance but revealed at last week’s Breakfast With The Stars that it did not necessarily mean the three-year-old would take his place in the Derby, choosing instead to use the seven to 10 days that followed to discuss the matter with connections.
However, Atzeni, who will take the ride if given the green light, is backing the colt to build on a ‘very promising’ display last time out.
“He is a great horse coming off the back of a good race in York,” said the jockey who hails from Sardinia. “We wanted to find out a bit more about him up there because he had only won a couple of novices. This was against some very different opposition and it was a very promising performance.
“Telecaster finished clear of us at York but I think it will be a lot closer this time around.
“It is a different track – one he is not used to – but he is a well balanced horse and will be fine if that is the route Roger decides to go down.”
One Varian horse that does look certain to feature at Epsom is Tauteke in Friday’s Oaks (4.30pm).
The daughter of the Sea The Stars – winner of the Derby in 2009 – was last seen finishing second to John Gosden’s Anapurna in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial on May 11 and Atzeni, who is due to be in the saddle, believes she has improved from that outing.
“I sat on her this morning (Tuesday) and she is in really good shape. It seems like she has really come into herself,” he added.
“She had a spin around Epsom last week at Breakfast With The Stars and we were very pleased. The filly that beat us at Lingfield was very impressive but Tauteke has improved a lot since then.
“We know she will stay and with the improvement she has made, she is an exciting prospect in this race.”
The Varian-Atzeni axis will also be on show in the Group 1 Coronation Cup on Friday with Defoe (3.10pm).
A multiple Group-winning horse, the five-year-old is yet to land a top level race and was most recently in action at Newmarket’s Group 2 Roaring Lion Jockey Club Stakes, during which he finished second to Communique.
“We have been very pleased with Defoe’s work since Newmarket,” said Atzeni. “He will run well, just like he always does, and the ground should not be a problem.
“I am sure he will show up on the day because he has always been a consistent horse. It looks to be a very good race but he certainly belongs in that company.”
Varian and Atzeni head into the weekend in good form, having combined on Sunday to land the Group 1 Prix D’ispahan at Longchamp.
It secured a 16th top level victory for the Bury Road Carlburg Stables-based trainer.