Australis bids to get back on winning track at Ascot

Northumberland Plate second lines up for Roger Varian.

Australis, runner-up in the Northumberland Plate, bids to go one better in the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap at Ascot on Saturday.

The four-year-old ran a fine race when going down to Caravan Of Hope at Newcastle and is back on turf for the first time in 12 months.

His trainer Roger Varian believes the five-year-old has plenty in his favour.

“He should run well. He should like the ground, the track and the trip is fine. We’d be hopeful of him,” said the Newmarket handler.

David Menuisier is happy to step Kaloor up to two miles after the four-year-old stayed on well when third to Mancini over a mile and three-quarters at Sandown last month.

“He ran well at Sandown the other day. He seems in great form so we’re going to try again,” said the Pulborough handler.

“He stayed the mile and six really well up the hill, so I don’t see why he won’t stay two miles. It’s worth a try.”

The staying event has attracted a competitive field including Sleeping Lion, Holy Kingdom and Paul Nicholls’ dual-purpose performer Red Force One, a winner over hurdles at Market Rasen last month.

Varian is hoping Look Closely can defy an 8lb rise in the Thames Hospice Handicap for his success over the same mile and a half two weeks ago.

“He seems in good form. He’s in good heart, he’s a course and distance winner and has similar conditions,” he said.

“He’s up 8lb so we’ll have to see how he fares.”

Spanish Archer, Jeremiah and Omnivega are other recent winners in the line-up.

Varian is pleased to get Game Player back to the course after being absent for over year in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Celebration Handicap.

The five-year-old has been sidelined since running a decent race in the Golden Mile at Goodwood last summer.

“It’s a nice starting point for him. He’s had a delayed start to his season, but he’ll like the fast ground and the mile looks his trip,” he said.

Saeed bin Suroor’s Jalaad, successful in a 17-runner handicap at York, and David O’Meara’s Shelir are among the opposition.

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