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  • 19:30 Weatherbys Private Banking Leisure Stakes 6f

  • (Listed) £37,000 added 3yo+ 14 ran
  • Winner £20,983 2nd £7,955 3rd £3,981 4th £1,983
  • Going: Good
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 1m 11.17s
  • Off time: 19:35:28

Rocky Ground won the Leisure Stakes at Windsor for Roger Varian

Last Updated: 03/06/14 7:37am

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Roger Varian with Kingston Hill

Roger Varian with Kingston Hill

Roger Varian and Andrea Atzeni received a welcome boost ahead of the Derby with Rocky Ground's Listed victory at Windsor

The trainer and jockey team up with Kingston Hill at Epsom on Saturday and their week got off to the perfect start with a first pattern race victory for a four-year-old that they believe has a bright future.

Held-up in mid division in the Weatherbys Private Banking Leisure Stakes, the son of Acclamation picked up stylishly to win going away by two lengths from Rex Imperator after Music Master had set a searching gallop.

The 16/1 shot slipped and fell after the line, throwing Atzeni to the floor, but, fortunately, horse and rider were none the worse for wear.

"It was [unfortunate], the poor horse he just slipped going round the bend - it was just one of those things," Atzeni told At The Races.

"He's a beautiful looking horse, they went a good gallop and I just dropped him in mid-division and when I let him down he quickened really well, he's one of those horses that you can switch off and he likes going past horses as well."

The winning trainer revealed that Rocky Ground had always been held in high regard and was only now beginning to fulfil his potential.

"He's always promised plenty," he said, "even as a two-year-old he won his first start and we had high hopes for him but he didn't quite deliver as a young horse; he was a bit immature mentally but racing's done him the world of good and he improved with every start last year.

"If you look back at his first run in the Palace House Stakes last time it was a good run. He probably needed it, he improved from the run but it was against those good sprinters over five and it wasn't a bad run to start off with.

"The trick has been trying to get this horse to relax as he was wanting to do things in too much of a rush. Racing over five furlongs has just educated him and we thought once we jumped up to six furlongs we'd see a bit of improvement."

Varian is set to saddle his first runner in the Derby on Saturday in Group One winning juvenile Kingston Hill and he reported that his colt was in good form going into the Classic.

"Very pleased with the horse and great to have a runner going into the Derby with a sound chance and we're looking forward to it," he commented.

"As a two-year-old he looked like he'd be staying further than a mile at three. It was a good run in the Guineas - The Grey Gatsby was behind us - and his form is very strong, we think he'll improve for the step up in trip and we're very much looking forward to it.

"I'm sure he has [the class to win it], he was a cracking two-year-old, I think he's got really strong credentials," he concluded.

Atzeni was in firm agreement, adding: "I can't wait. The horse is great, he went round Epsom on Thursday and was really good."

Sky Bet cut Rocky Ground to 20/1 from 33s for the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot while Kingston Hill can be backed at 10/1 for the Derby with the Leeds firm.

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