Roger Varian is hoping that for a bold show from Surfman in the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York on Thursday,
A half-brother to Group One winner Kitesurf, he races for owner-breeder Peter Winkworth and won his last two starts at Nottingham and Newcastle, the latter by 14 lengths on his reappearance.
Varian said: "We’ve always held him in the highest regard and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that he’s as good as we think he might be.
"He beat a poor field at Newcastle, let’s be honest. He didn’t beat a lot but he beat them 14 lengths on the bridle. And it did the horse good to get out there – get an away-day from Newmarket. We didn’t learn much about him – we knew he was a nice horse and he proved he was a nice horse. But we didn’t learn how nice he is. His next start, we will do."
Surfman, who holds an entry in the Investec Derby, warmed up for York with a piece of fast work in Newmarket on Friday morning.
Varian added: “He has worked well and he has come on for his run. He’s a highly promising colt. He has always worked at home like a pretty smart colt – we’ve got high hopes for him going forward. And if we do run in the Dante that’s going to tell us a little bit more where we are.
"I think York – a galloping track, a flat track – should suit him well. It looks a very hot race – we’ll have to see what shows up and see how we measure up. But I think he’s pretty good himself, so fingers crossed."
If Surfman could triumph on the Knavesmire it would be a romantic result as Varian and Winkworth are old allies, stemming back to the days when the latter used to train.
"Peter is one of the sport’s enthusiasts and he has put a lot into the game over the years,” said Varian. I actually rode him a winner in my very short and undistinguished riding career. He supported me back then as a teenager – I was a 7lb claimer and it was over hurdles that I rode him that winner – and it’s nice that he has supported me as a trainer as well.”