Trainer Stephen Miller is confident quality gelding Variation has the fitness to get the job done and return to the winner’s list in the Listed Old Comrade Stakes (1600m).
The $100,000 race forms part of Miller’s dual-pronged attack on two of Saturday’s Ascot features with Bubaroochy set to tackle the Group 2 Karrakatta Plate (1200m).
Miller, who won the Old Comrade Stakes as a jockey aboard Gwalia Girl (2002), said Variation was building to peak fitness after returning from a long injury lay off.
The son of War Chant was on the sidelines for 16-months when a hoof absence developed into a bad infection after he ran fourth in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m).
Miller believes Variation, the only horse to win the WA Guineas (1600m) -Belmont Guineas (1600m) double, has overcome all injury worries and is showing an appetite for racing.
The five-year-old has produced top runs behind Achernar Star in his two runs back, finishing fifth in the Bunbury Stakes (1400m) and a close second in the Grandstand Cup (1500m).
Miller said Variation was closing in on a deserved win.
“It’s been a long road, but touch wood everything is holding up and he is as sound as a bell,” Miller told Tabradio.
“On his two runs so far he still has the desire to race well and I think he still has the will to win in him.
“Once the horse gets fit he is pretty easy to maintain because he keeps himself fit.
“Now that he has had those two hard runs he should be pretty much cherry-ripe for tomorrow (Saturday).
In a field of nine runners Variation has drawn barrier two. Shaun McGruddy takes his first ride on the horse.
Variation is the second favourite ($3.50) behind Tellem We’re Comin ($2.45).
Meanwhile in the Karrakatta Plate Bubaroochy is a $51 chance.
The gelding posted his sole win in January and last-start ran sixth to Beethoven in the Listed Perth Stakes (1100m).
“He probably doesn’t deserve that price,” Miller said.
“He is a tough little bugger with a strong constitution.
“He is not a 50-to-1 pop.”
Bubaroochy will jump from barrier 12 for Lucy Warwick.