Zabeel Prince continued Roger Varian’s excellent run of form with an impressive victory in the bet365 Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket.
The Bury Road handler enjoyed a one-two in Tuesday’s Nell Gwyn Stakes – with Qabala leaping to the head of the ante-post betting for the 1000 Guineas with a comprehensive defeat of stablemate Mot Juste.
Varian struck again on Wednesday with Wood Ditton winner UAE Jewel, and Zabeel Prince was a 9-2 co-favourite to provide the trainer with a fourth winner at this year’s Craven meeting in Thursday’s Group Three feature.
Making his first appearance since being narrowly beaten by the reopposing Mustashry in the Joel Stakes in September, Zabeel Prince was given a patient ride by Andrea Atzeni before being switched wide to mount his challenge with two furlongs to run.
The six-year-old showed a smart change of gear to grab the lead and powered clear late on to score by two and three-quarter lengths from last year’s winner Forest Ranger, with Mustashry back in third.
Varian said: “We always thought he would get this sort of trip (nine furlongs) last year, but he got injured in the Lockinge and we couldn’t run him until the Joel Stakes in the autumn. The way he has won there he might get 10 furlongs.
“I loved the way Andrea rode him – he gave him a beautiful ride. He had to switch him as nothing was going forward in front of him. He hit the rising ground and came home really good.
“It was good to firm in the Joel last year and it was very similar ground today. I’d be wary of firm, summer ground with him, but I was happy to run today as I knew there was a little bit of cushion there and he seems to love it. He is fine on soft ground, so he is quite versatile
“That performance has opened things up – the way he has got the trip – and I’d love to try him over 10 furlongs at some point.”
Varian added: “I think he needs time between races as he has a great record fresh. He is in the Lockinge (Newbury, May 18) and I think he would run well over a mile again, but I think he would need easy ground to be a top horse over a mile.
“On this ground he might need to go a mile and a quarter to bring out that level of performance.”