Teona (far left) in action at York
Teona (far left) in action at York

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe: Teona could head to France


Roger Varian is keen to keep all options open with Teona after the Prix Vermeille heroine returned to Newmarket on Monday evening.

The daughter of Sea The Stars was considered a serious Classic contender earlier in the year, amid reports of sparkling workouts on the Newmarket gallops.

But while there was plenty of promise in her third-placed finish behind Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York in May, she was a long way behind the same filly in the Oaks at Epsom the following month.

However, Varian has never lost faith in Teona – and after returning from a break with a Listed success at Windsor, she came of age in Paris on Sunday when turning the tables on Snowfall to claim Group One glory.

MASSIVE upset as Snowfall bombs out in the Vermeille behind Teona!

“She got back last night and seems fine after the race, so we’re very happy with that,” said the Bury Road handler on Tuesday. “We’ve made no secret of the high regard we hold her in. Hopefully she’s a filly really going places now.”

While many were shocked Teona reversed previous form with Snowfall, Varian feels there were genuine reasons why she could not land a telling blow behind Aidan O’Brien’s filly earlier in the year.

He added: “She had a valid excuse at York, and a valid excuse at Epsom. At York she reared up in the starting gates, and then it turned into a four-furlong sprint up the home straight. She actually ran very well that day – making up ground on horses that were sprinting in front of her. You could see how she might get closer to Snowfall.

“At Epsom the ground was heavy, and I don’t think she’s a filly who can cope with that sort of ground. It took a while to get her back after running on that ground at Epsom, but she was fairly dominant at Windsor and showed what she was capable of on Sunday in Paris.”

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What made the success all the sweeter for Varian is the fact he also trained Teona’s dam Ambivalent to win a Group One.

He said: “James Fanshawe texted me after the race to say congratulations and how nice it is to keep a Group One-winning line going. He also said it’s a sign that I’m getting on a bit! Maybe he’s right.”

The obvious target for Teona is a return to France for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the first Sunday in October – although she also holds alternative Group One entries over varying distances that same ParisLongchamp weekend as well as in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot later in the month.

Varian confirmed Europe’s premier middle-distance contest will be “seriously considered”, but he is in no rush to commit at this stage.

He added: “I haven’t had a conversation with the owner yet, but you’d have to consider the Arc if we’re happy with the filly over the next two and a half weeks and the ground looks like it will be fairly sound.

“I don’t think we’d entertain a very soft-ground Arc – I don’t think that would be her bag. But if the forecast and the ground is in our favour, and we’re happy with the filly’s condition, I’m sure it will be seriously considered.

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“I think at the moment we keep everything on the table and don’t make any decisions, because we don’t have to. She’s got these big-race entries, so we don’t have to supplement her or anything like that, which means we can make these decisions late.

“The nice thing for us now is that she’s won the Vermeille and established herself as a top-drawer filly. I don’t quite know how the rest of the season will pan out for her. Some of it will be decided by things out of our control, like weather and ground, and some of it will be within our control.

“She’s won her Group One, so we don’t have to keep telling everyone she’s good – she’s proved it. Everything remains a possibility with a filly like that.”

Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, Varian is keeping his fingers crossed Teona will return in 2022, saying: “I haven’t discussed that with the owner, but I certainly hope so.

“She’s only just getting started. Her mother raced as a five-year-old, and there is no reason to think Teona won’t get better with age.”


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