Farraaj will make his Australian racing debut in the 2014 Mackinnon Stakes and trainer Roger Varian is delighted with the form of the consistent galloper heading into the Group 1 event at Flemington tomorrow.
Farraaj carried the top weight of 61 kilograms to record a dominant win in the Investec Wealth & Investment Handicap (2028m) at Epsom Downs on June 6 and was the top weight when he took out the John Smith’s Cup in good style at York on July 12.
The Dubai Destination gelding had his winning run ended in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes (1799m) at York on August 23, but Varian told Racing Ahead that the form coming out of that race had been strong and he is confident that the five-year-old is a genuine chance of returning to winning form in the Mackinnon Stakes.
“He has had a great summer back home and won two of our most prestigious handicaps,” Varian said.
“He has done it in good style and both times has carried top weight, so you upgrade his performances from the weight that he has been carrying.
“His latest start was in a Group 3 and although he was only fourth he wasn’t beaten far, it was a very close finish and the form has really stacked up.
“The winner went on to win his next start at Group 2 and the third placegetter Trade Storm won a Group 1 in Canada at his next start and he is going to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“It wasn’t a shabby race and he brings good form into tomorrow’s race.”
Jockey Andrea Atzeni has been booked to ride Farraaj in the Mackinnon Stakes and the in-form hoop will be riding in Australia for the first time at Flemington tomorrow.
Atzeni was set a tough assignment when Farraaj was allocated barrier 15 and Varian revealed that he had yet to decide on tactics for the John Smith’s Cup winner in the Mackinnon Stakes and will wait until he walks the track tomorrow before deciding on how he would like to see Farraaj ridden.
“We will have to sit down and look at the field and think about tactics prior to tomorrow,” Varian said.
“I will very much leave it to Andrea because he is riding very well, he is full of confidence and he knows the horse extremely well.
“We will walk the track tomorrow before racing and we will have an idea about what we want to do going into the race.
“Sometimes it is dangerous to have a concrete plan and sometimes you need to have a plan a, a plan b and even a plan c.”
Farraaj is currently available at 2014 Mackinnon Stakes odds of $12 and has been one of the best-backed runners in betting for the Group 1 event at Flemington tomorrow, while He’s Your Man ($5.50), Criterion ($5.50) and Rising Romance ($5.50) are locked in a battle for favourtism.