2018 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Calls for Variation

The lower-grade races of next year’s Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival 2018 are calling for smart Perth galloper Variation who rounds out his summer prep at home this Saturday.

Black Heart Bart

Saturday’s AJ Scahill Stakes 2017 runner Variation has form around five-time Group 1 winner Black Heart Bart (pictured) this summer in W.A. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

Lark Hill horseman Simon Miller is keen to send his War Chant four-year-old east for a shot at some Melbourne Festival of Racing black-type in Victoria next time in after the gelding’s consistent season.

“That is the plan and that’s what we are going to do,” Miller told the radio this week.

“We won’t target any of the major races and will look at something a little easier.”

A winner of seven of his 17 career starts, Variation has had four runs for four top four performances across his spring – summer preparation in a nice effort after being crowned WA’s champion three-year-old a year prior.

After two recent Group 3 placings, the up-and-comer was one of the eye-catching performers in the Group 1 $1 million Railway Stakes (1600m) on November 25.

Ridden by Brad Parnham on 53kg, Variation finished only three-quarters of a length behind the upset winner Great Shot in the race that saw Darren Weir’s five-time Group 1 champion Black Heart Bart run second.

That was an encouraging performance for Miller who hopes the experience over in Melbourne next autumn can bring the horse on for a second shot at the Railway Stakes next Perth Summer Racing Carnival.

“Hopefully it will toughen him up and improve him a little bit,” Miller said.

“If he can find another length he could be a big chance in the Railway Stakes next year.”

As for this weekend, Variation has a final start jumping from barrier six of nine in the Group 3 $250,000 A.J. Scahill Stakes (1400m).

Miller made the call to bypass last weekend’s Group 1 $1 million Kingston Town Classic (1800m), won in an all-local trifecta by Pounamu, who Variation was only a nostril flare off for second back on November 4 in the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m).

“There were more seasoned horses in it than him and he is still immature,” Miller said of the Kingston Town Classic.

“I think what we have asked of him so far he has delivered pretty good.

“He has come through all his races really good.

“He has a fair bit of potential and we have looked after him.”

The extra week between runs should be favourable for Variation, but Miller does have some queries about the rise to 59kg at weight-for-age.

“I think we have done the right thing having a crack at this race,” Miller said.

“He pulled through the Railway really good and the gap seems pretty ideal.

“I was surprised how well he backed up between the Peters and the Railway.

“He has mainly done beach work since then and I’m pretty pleased with him.

“My only concern is weight for age, but you won’t know until he races in it.”

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