The magnanimous pool of talent that thoroughbred racing has become today is a result of the scores of passionate professionals who are behind the scenes in every race and behind every winner. In a world is full of quick fixes and short cuts, some have stood their ground and never taken an easy route out to anything.
From the land of the Queen, Roger Varian is one of the most celebrated trainers of this decade. Ten Furlongs speaks to the Classic winning trainer about his Group One-winning, 6YO, Dalakhani gelding, Defoe:
Q: Please tell us a bit more about Defoe as a horse. How did he come to you?
A: Defoe is a horse who has always been very straightforward. He has a wonderfully relaxed attitude, enjoys his racing, enjoys his work, and has the type of temperament we would like every racehorse to have.
I was very fortunate that Defoe came to us as a yearling in 2015 as a homebred of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid's. He first raced in the autumn of his two-year-old career, winning his first start, and improving with every run as a 3YO. He really became an exciting horse when he won the Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton, that being his first stakes-level success, and from there he improved to winning the GR.3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
He is now a proven Group One performer, and when any horse gets to that level they naturally become exciting. His two stand-out performances of last season - the GR.1 Coronation Cup and Royal Ascot's Gr.2 Hardwicke Stakes - mark him down as being one of the best, most exciting mile-and-a-half horses in Europe.
Q: Did you consider taking Defoe to Saudi for the US$20m Saudi Cup race day?
A: We have not considered Defoe to run on the Saudi Cup race day as we had always planned to prepare him for the Gr.1 Sheema Classic by running in the Gr.2 City Of Gold Stakes on Super Saturday at Meydan. Both races are over a mile-and-a-half.
Q: Have you decided which races will he be aimed at after the Dubai World Cup race day?
A: We won't rush him back to the track following World Cup night, and I am sure we will follow the same pattern as last season with his first target in the UK being the Gr.1 Coronation Cup at Epsom, followed by another tilt at the Hardwicke Stakes back at Royal Ascot.
Q: Which horses would you like to see on the field going up again, Defoe?
A: It would be nice if as few as possible opponents could show up on the night! As far as making the Sheema Classic a strong race goes, I imagine it will be interesting for racing fans to see how Ghaiyyath fares after his contrasting runs in Germany and in the Arc, and there is usually a strong Japanese presence in the race to make it a truly international affair.
Q: What about Zabeel Prince? What are your plans for him?
A: Unfortunately Zabeel Prince had a minor setback earlier in January, so he won't make it to Meydan this year. We will aim to get him back for the top 8-9 furlong races in Europe this summer.
Q: Which was the first Dubai World Cup race you've attended and which horse did you get to see win the DWC?
A: The first Dubai World Cup race I attended was in 2011. We ran Laaheb in the Sheema Classic that night, and he ran well to be fourth the race before Japan's Victoire Pisa won the Dubai World Cup which was a very special night.
Q: What excites you about Dubai and Meydan?
A: For a number of years the Dubai World Cup fixture has been an international highlight in the horse racing calendar, and it seems to grow in strength year after year. I have been lucky enough to have some contenders for these races, and one of my career highlights is winning the Sheema Classic with Postponed in 2016. The Group One races on Dubai World Cup night stand out as being some of the best races to win on the international circuit and it gives the whole stable great excitement to again have a contender this year.
Q: Who are your other stables stars for 2020 and what ambitions do you have for them?
Q: How did you get involved with racing? What are your aspirations for this decade?
A: I followed racing as a fan when I was a child and grew up with the ambition of being a jockey. Although I only had a short, low-key career as a jockey the next best thing for me was to train horses, and I was fortunate that I came to this conclusion at a young age, giving myself plenty of time to work towards becoming a trainer.
I think we improved the stable year after year in the last decade, which has given us some very solid foundations to continue to build and improve over the decade to come. There is so much to achieve in this game that I don't think you can ever achieve everything. Of course, there are individual races out there which would be a dream come true to win, but what we really aim to do is improve each season and create a stable that people Endeavour to be a part of.
Q: Can you please tell us a bit more about your family.
A: I am married to my Japanese wife Hanako Sanobe and I have three children Momoka (eight-years-old), Eiji (6) & Reika (3).