Stephen Miller goes into Wednesday’s Listed Amelia Park-Bunbury Stakes (1400m) with mixed hopes..
The top horseman is absolutely rapt to have his star galloper Variation back at the races, but is uncertain of what to expect from the five-year-old.
Bunbury’s premier $120,000 sprint, a race Miller won as a jockey, marks the long awaited return of Variation, who has battled feet issues.
The War Chant gelding last raced 466 days ago when he finished fourth to Great Shot in the 2017 Group One Railway Stakes (1600m).
Miller is hoping Variation can show his three-year-old form when he became the horse to win the WA Guineas-Belmont Guineas double.
A winner in seven of 17 starts and four stakes races, Variation tuned up for his return with two trials, finishing third behind Pushin Shapes’ in a heat on February 25.
Variation holds a top record when racing fresh, posting one win and three placings from his four first up attempts. The TAB have him rated a $7.50 chance.
“He has done the work and had a couple of trials, but obviously match practice is going to be hard against the opposition,” Miller told Tabradio.
“But he is sound, he is well and if he finishes top five I would be pretty pleased with him.
“We’ve had a lot of headaches with his feet which have been a bit of a drama.
“We are finally there now and had a blacksmith who has done a magnificent job with him.
“Hopefully his ability will shine through and it all works tomorrow (Wednesday).
“But he is fit and sound and that is all you can ask for.”
Variation can hand Miller his second Bunbury Stakes success. He rode Old Fashion for trainer Vern Brockman in 2002.
Variation, bought for $32,000 at the 2015 Magic Millions Perth Yearling sale has drawn barrier five. He reunites with Melbourne-based jockey, Damian Lane
The Bunbury-born rider has ridden Variation on two occasions, winning the WA Guineas and finishing second in the Rangeview Stud Classic (1400m).
Lane can emulate his father on the Bunbury Stakes honour roll. Michael Lane prepared four-year-old gelding Keytomoney to victory in 2009.