Roger Varian confident as Sharja Bridge contests the bet365 Mile at Sandown

Sharja Bridge charges through to win the Balmoral
Sharja Bridge charges through to win the Balmoral

Roger Varian believes Sharja Bridge is reaching his peak ahead of the bet365 Mile at Sandown on Friday.

The five-year-old ended last season by winning the valuable Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on Champions Day and began the new campaign with a stylish victory in a Listed race at Doncaster.

He now steps up to Group Two class for the first time, with Varian hoping for big things this year.

"Sharja Bridge is in great form and we are looking forward to running him," he said.

"It looks a good race on Friday and I think Addeybb and Beat The Bank stand out. It is a hard race to win - we have tried a couple of times before, but have yet to win it.

"He is a five-year-old now and is peaking in maturity. If he has got a big year in him, it will be this year, hopefully.

"He has had a run, but I'm sure they will all be ready to run in this as that is why they are lining up."

Beat The Bank was consistent last season for Andrew Balding, winning Group Two events at Ascot and Goodwood, and he escapes a penalty.

"It's his first ever run at Sandown, but he is in great nick," said Balding, whose string have been in great form in the early weeks of the season.

"He needs things to go well, it is a tough level he is performing at, but he has won three Group Two races already. The way he is working, he is almost near his best.

"Ascot on Champions Day didn't work out for him and Hong Kong came at the end of what had been a long season.

"He should have a good season and this is a nice place to start. It would be nice to get a Group One next to his name this season."

Balding is also running Zwayyan to put some pace into the race.

William Haggas' Addeybb won the race last season, having taken the Lincoln on his previous outing, but it did not go to plan after that for a combination of factors.

He reappears this term with cheekpieces applied for the first time, but it will need to rain for him to run.

Haggas said: "Things conspired against him last season, we've never had a summer like it since 1976 in terms of the weather.

"Then when it did rain on Champions Day he wasn't ready for it and I went and ran him on the all-weather at Lingfield which was the wrong track.

"He needs rain, plenty of it, the word soft must appear in the going description somewhere for him to run. If I hadn't declared him it would probably pour down, but I'll send him and it will probably rain everywhere bar Sandown because that is the way it is.

"He's in good form and is ready to run, he has been for a bit so he needs to run really."

Richard Hannon's Oh This Is Us is out again quickly having won at Lingfield on All-Weather Finals Day, while David O'Meara's Suedois, Ralph Beckett's Mitchum Swagger and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Regal Reality also run.

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