Postponed’s time has come

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

June 4th, 2016

It’s not often you can say that an odds-on favorite actually exceeds expectations, but Postponed may have done just that by dominating a strong renewal of the Coronation Cup (G1) at Epsom on Saturday. Storming 4 1/2 lengths clear of Breeders’ Cup Turf victress Found (G1), the son of Dubawi extended his winning streak to five in a row, each arguably more authoritative than the last.

Even more compelling, Postponed’s sequence includes three of the world’s best 1 1/2-mile prizes – last summer’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1) at Ascot, the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on World Cup night last out, and now the Coronation Cup on Epsom Derby Day.

Former trainer Luca Cumani had carefully crafted the raw prospect, much like a vintner’s artful patience ultimately yields the perfect vintage, power tempered by silky smoothness. Cumani had only begun to reap the results – a ferociously brave decision in King George and a more perfunctory success in the Prix Foy (G2) – when owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al Maktoum suddenly transferred his horses to Roger Varian .

Having received a horse the caliber of Postponed, who was just now reaching the peak of his powers, was a windfall for Varian. But Varian also deserves credit for having the skillful horsemanship to build on Cumani’s foundation, and Postponed is scaling the heights.

Beginning his 2016 campaign at Meydan, Postponed was a laughably easy winner of the Dubai City of Gold (G2) over a useful sort in Dariyan. The competition was stiffer in the Sheema, but Postponed put away Japan’s highly-regarded Duramente (who it must be recalled was racing in only three shoes) in course-record time.

Postponed was meeting two star fillies in this English return. Aside from Found, there was St Leger (G1) and British Champions Fillies & Mares (G1) heroine Simple Verse. And we can’t forget Arabian Queen, who like Found, had upset Golden Horn last year. Rounding out the quintet of Group 1 winners in an unusually deep Coronation Cup was Second Step, trained by none other than Cumani.

But Postponed was in a league of his own, with hardly an anxious moment. If there were one, it came when his pacemaker Roseburg slowed the tempo down, and the stalking Postponed appeared a tad eager. Regular rider Andrea Atzeni soon got Postponed relaxed again, and he never looked like losing.

Found, rated farther off the early pace by Ryan Moore, crept up to follow Postponed as he cruised to join Roseburg at the top of the stretch. Yet Found simply couldn’t live with Postponed once he was given his head. The Aidan O’Brien filly might not have been entirely comfortable on the course either, for she changed leads before finally driving clear of the pacemaker to take second. Found is now expected to come right back in 11 days for the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot – a rapid-fire pattern that worked well for her in the Breeders’ Cup.

Roseburg held third, making the most of an enterprising ride by Jack Mitchell. Simple Verse was a creditable fourth in a race that really didn’t play to her stamina-laden strengths. Second Step nearly caught her, but came up just shy in fifth. Master Carpenter was outclassed. Arabian Queen, prominent early, retreated to seventh. Perhaps she’s not over that sinus issue that had kept her out of last month’s Middleton (G2). Knowing her, Arabian Queen will rebound somewhere at a price. The trailing Star Storm threw in his third straight clunker, and trainer James Fanshawe will have to go back to the drawing board to diagnose what’s gone wrong for a colt who’d looked so progressive last fall.

Postponed will now set his sights on a title defense in the July 23 King George, and you’d have to think that the October 2 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) would be his major goal. The Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) would suit him to a tee, if connections are so inclined. Sheikh Mohammed Obaid is already thinking of a 2017 campaign, with a return trip to Dubai for the Sheema.

Selected quotes from Epsom

Winning trainer Roger Varian on what makes Postponed special: “Number one, his ability - you can't install ability; they have it. All his other attributes come a close second. He's got the most level temperament; that's a real quality. I should have thought he's got the most level heart-beat of any horse at the start; he takes any situation in his stride. He can operate off a fast pace or a slow pace and in different ground conditions. He really is the ultimate.”

Winning rider Andrea Atzeni: “He is a machine. He's just a proper racehorse. You can put him anywhere in the race, he travels good, he goes on any ground, he quickens up and I am very, very lucky.”

Trainer Aidan O’Brien on runner-up Found: “She wouldn't have been suited to the slow pace of the race as she always likes a nicely run race and that is when she is at her best. She would have no problem with faster ground but I am very happy with her.”

Postponed photo courtesy British Champions Series via Twitter