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Callan 'thrilled to bits' to be handed first-jockey job for new trainer Varian.

Byline: Graham Green

NEIL CALLAN was "thrilled to bits" yesterday after his promotion to first jockey completed a seamless changing of the guard at Newmarket's Kremlin House Stables, writes Graham Green.

His appointment follows the retirement of Michael Jarvis on health grounds this week, with assistant Roger Varian taking over the licence.

Philip Robinson, who is the weighingroom's elder statesman at 50 and enjoyed a two-decade association with Jarvis, has already been snapped up to ride as stable jockey to Clive Brittain this season.

Callan, 32, has been a member of the Kremlin House team for 11 years and rode Jarvis's last Group 1 winner, Rainbow Peak in the Gran Premio del Jockey Club in Milan in October.

He has also partnered another of the trainer's stars, Pressing, to win the Topkapi Trophy in Turkey for the last three seasons.

"It's a great opportunity for me and, with all the owners staying, the stable is just as powerful as it was when Michael was training," said Callan.

"To get a top-class job like this is the next step for me, and I'm thrilled to bits about it. I've been sitting in the wings as second jockey, but that has allowed me to do my own thing, and now I can't wait to get started.

"Hopefully, we can keep the power of the stable going and carry on where we left off last season."

Keen to develop a long-term relationship with the stable's principal rider, Varian has wasted no time in putting his stamp on the new operation.

"I think the world of Philip but I've made the decision with the future in mind," said Varian.

"Neil is in his early 30s and in the prime of his career, and I think he's one of the best jockeys riding in Britain at the moment. He has been second jockey here for 11 years, so he has done his time and I think he deserves his chance.

"I'm very keen to start the season with clarity in terms of having a first jockey, and with Sheikh Hamdan having two retained jockeys and Frankie Dettori riding for Sheikh Ahmed when not claimed by Godolphin, there aren't quite the number of horses for a shared job.

"There has been absolutely no fallingout with Philip. He has been a great help during my time as assistant, I have a lot to thank him for, and he has been a brilliant stable jockey to Michael.

"But I just feel Neil is the right choice going forward."

The richest race Callan has won in Britain has been the Nunthorpe Stakes on Borderlescott in 2009.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2011
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