Williams impressed with overseas contenders

A minute or so after the English stayer Bauer hit the line in yesterday’s Geelong Cup, Craig Williams was on the phone to the horse’s owner.

The premier jockey doesn’t have a Melbourne Cup ride and he would be happy, he said, to help out on the Geelong Cup winner.

Craig Williams3 Around 14 hours later, Williams was on the back of another Melbourne Cup hope whose glowing good health and prime condition may yet present him with a problem.

Williams rode the French mare Varevees at Sandown this morning, his five minutes in the saddle leaving him with a favourable impression.

“She’s a lovely mare and my feeling after riding her today is that she’s in great order,” Williams said.

“She’s quite sharp, quite eager, very fit.

“I loved the way she got into her rhythm, she wanted to do her job.

“Most importantly, when she pulled up she wanted to go again.”

Varevees has been one of the most impressive track workers at Sandown where she is in quarantine along with the Melbourne Cup favourite Septimus, the Caulfield Cup winner All The Good and half a dozen others.

A six-year-old mare, Varevees is trained by Richard Gibson at Chantilly in France and came to Melbourne on the back of a serious decline in her form.

But she has worked more strongly than any other horse in the quarantine centre, a trend that continued when Williams tested her over 1000m today.

While the jockey gave the impression he would prefer to ride Bauer in the Cup, he won’t be disappointed if he misses out on the mount on the Luca Cumani-trained galloper.

“I’d be happy if I was left with Varevees,” he said.

“At this stage I’m pretty sure I’m one of the jockeys that’s in the mix for Bauer.

“He’s done it on the racetrack so that’s a real big tick for him.

“But I liked what I felt this morning with her.

“The way that she walked around, she’s a happy horse.”

Varevees also gave Williams the impression that she would not be as one-paced and dour as her form suggested.

Only one of her eight wins in France has been over a distance less than 2400m with three of them at 3000m and beyond.

“The way she felt today, she was quite sharp,” he said.

“She felt as though she could take a position in a race.”

By Mike Hedge