McCabe and Varian feel at home in first cup venture

 

Louisville

For both men, daybreak here yesterday must have introduced an environment at once strange and familiar – no less, in their own walk of life, than when others see for the first time the passage of yellow taxis through Manhattan, or gondolas beneath the Bridge of Sighs.

As their respective horses returned from track to quarantine barn, night was draining into the eastern rim of a world Roger Varian and Alan McCabe had visited only in dreams, and the iconic spires emerged above the grandstand as though in austere reproof of the unseasoned daring of these voyagers from afar.

Here were two young trainers trying to set their bearings for the giddiest opportunities of their respective careers to date. And it just so happens that the return of the Breeders' Cup to Churchill Downs affords them the most iconic landmark on the American Turf, home of the Kentucky Derby itself.

Now, in the morning blush, the warren of stabling on the back stretch obtained subtler dimensions than had been permitted by the stark floodlighting of its first shift. Then ghostly horsemen and their charges had been slinking and smoking through the frosty air like the last fugitives of Halloween. But now the world awoke to rich possibility – for better or worse.

Both Varian and McCabe protested themselves very much at home. The former cut his teeth as a teenager riding trackwork in California; the latter sampled American methods under Eoin Harty in Dubai. But it is by dint of their achievements on home soil that they truly belong. McCabe, in his fifth season, has made an unequivocal breakthrough in wringing such improvement from Caspar Netscher; Varian, in his first, has proved a worthy heir to his mentor, Michael Jarvis. He arrives with two live chances of crowning one of the great rookie campaigns: Faraaj, who meets Caspar Netscher in the Juvenile Turf on Saturday, and Nahrain, who takes her unbeaten record into the Filly and Mare Turf the previous evening.

Nahrain gave Varian his first Group One success in the Prix de l'Opera, barely a fortnight after Jarvis was finally claimed by the cancer that obliged him to hand over his Newmarket yard last winter. Jarvis had already seen enough to know that his legacy was in safe hands. "It's a shame he wasn't around to see the filly win in Paris," Varian said. "But I'd like to think seeing what was happening in the stable had given him great purpose through his last year. I think he was more elated than I was by the first winner, at the Lincoln meeting."

Jarvis will perhaps have found as much satisfaction in Varian's understated bearing as in his instant success, having himself long shown how the trainer who deals temperately with the best of times will do the same with the worst. "He was very understanding, knew that with horses things can't always work out," Varian said. "There was never any blame. He would take everything in his stride. And I think it rubbed off on the people working for him, and to an extent on his horses, too. It all stems from the top, like a pyramid. If the top man is well-mannered and even-tempered, you might see something of that in the horses as well. Michael was a true gentleman, and he's the reason I'm here."

Having said all which, Varian must plot his own path now – and it seems significant he should be here so soon, when Jarvis never had a runner at the Breeders' Cup. By the same token, there is impressive focus about McCabe, who has already distinguished himself from other ambitious trainers who simply get carried away by their first good horse. Caspar Netscher, indeed, looked really unlucky when raised to Group One company in the Middle Park Stakes.

"It's amazing to be here, and for him to have travelled on the same plane as Goldikova," McCabe said. "But I'm no stranger to good horses. I've been lucky enough to work with some top people – from Noel Meade to David Elsworth to Godolphin. I've ridden Desert Orchid, In The Groove, Kheleyf. Enough to know where we're going with a horse like this. Robert Winston has been very good to this horse, he's educated him, and it's a shame he's suspended. But he put his hand up straight away, after the Middle Park, and said he should have won."

He paused, and gave a dauntless grin. "We always said that was always going to be a prep race for this one," he said. "Breeders' Cup regulations say you must either have a race or a public blowout within the last 40 days. The Middle Park was our public blowout!"

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Amazing Blue Sky (4.10 Nottingham)

Tough front-runner who continues to thrive on a busy campaign.

 

Next Best

Good Authority (7.10 Kempton)

Showing verve for his new stable, earning a deserved maiden success last time.

 

One To Watch

Protanto (David Lanigan) looked another promising young prospect for his trainer when storming through for second at Lingfield last week, and handicaps now an option.

 

Where The Money's Going

Faraaj is 11-2 from 6-1 with Coral for the Juvenile Turf at the Breeders' Cup on Saturday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links