Kenilworth, Turf, 1600m
12 January 2013

Mike Moon / Tab News

Mike Moon / Tab News

Variety Club underlined his reputation as South Africa’s best miler when he captured the R1-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (Grade 1) over 1600m at Kenilworth on Saturday.

The Joey Ramsden-trained four-year-old colt - starting at 9-10 despite the disadvantage of the widest draw of 15 - triumphed emphatically by more than two lengths over Jackson (33-10), who short-headed Pomodoro (15-4).

While punters cheered the result, there will be much animated debate over an earlier false start to the race - and how the favourite benefited from it. The false start was declared when Variety Club, the last horse to load into the starting machine, backed out of his stall just as the starter hit the start button. All runners bar the favourite jumped away and commenced racing, only to be flagged down as the faux pas was noticed. It took jockeys some 400m to pull up the leading runners, although others were turned around a bit sooner. All returned to the start, were inspected by the vet and commenced loading once again. All the while, Variety Club walked calmly behind the stalls not having galloped a yard. Applying the adage that any horse who goes early through the pens can’t win, Variety Club was certain to triumph here. And so it proved, though there is no way of telling if the result would have been different had there been a faultless start.

When the field sprang away a second time, champion jockey Anton Marcus lost no time in immediately chasing Variety Club across from his wide stall to the head of affairs. Within seconds the draw bogey had been negated by a brilliant manoeuvre. Vodacom Durban July champion Pomodoro took up the second position in running, ahead of Martial Eagle, What A Winter, Jackson, Slumdogmillionaire and Fabiani in a stung-out field. Master Plan and Castlethorpe trailed some 20 lengths off the pace after jumping poorly.

In the straight, Variety Club galloped on tenaciously as the challenges came - from Pomodoro on the inside rail and Martial Eagle and Jackson down the centre. Just as it seemed that he might have hit the wall, South Africa’s reigning Horse of the Year found a little extra. The son of Var edged into the clear, and then gradually pulled away. Jackson and Pomodoro, a nostril apart at the line, ran brilliant preps for the J&B Met in three weeks time, which is obviously the main target for both of them.

Winning jockey Marcus commented afterwards: “As well as he won, it was never comfortable.” He explained that the colt had to be used to overcome his draw, did not corner very well and was under pressure at the top of the straight. But to racegoers it looked like a scintillating performance and they will be eager to see if he will run in the Met. There, of course, he will face tougher competition over 400m further. His connections provided little insight into their planning in their post-race interviews.

The surprise package of the Queen’s Plate was the Yogas Govender-trained Martial Eagle (150-1), who fought off the rest of the pack to claim fourth spot. Many would have reckoned the seven-year-old’s best days were behind him, but will now be factoring him into feature races to come.

Variety Club is owned by Ingrid and Markus Jooste and was bred by Beaumont Stud. This was his 12th victory in 17 starts. He has only been out of the money once and has amassed more than R3-million in prize money.

L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (Grade 1)
Final Result

# LBH Horse Kg MR Dr Jockey Trainer
1 0.00 VARIETY CLUB 60.0 118 14 A Marcus Joey Ramsden
2 2.25 JACKSON 60.0 116 13 K Teetan Brett Crawford
3 2.30 POMODORO 60.0 112 7 P Strydom Sean Tarry
4 2.35 MARTIAL EAGLE 60.0 106 9 A Domeyer Yogas Govender
5 3.10 SLUMDOGMILLIONAIRE 60.0 109 1 B Lerena Gavin van Zyl
6 3.50 MASTER PLAN 60.0 111 5 R Fradd Greg Ennion
7 3.55 RUN FOR IT 60.0 109 4 S Cormack Justin Snaith
8 3.75 BULSARA 60.0 102 2 M Odendaal Gavin van Zyl
9 4.50 TRIBAL DANCE 60.0 107 11 M Byleveld Vaughan Marshall
10 6.25 FABIANI 60.0 106 3 G van Niekerk Glen Kotzen
11 6.30 BRAVURA 60.0 113 6 G Hatt Joey Ramsden
12 10.55 WHAT A WINTER 60.0 120 10 B Fayd’Herbe Mike Bass
13 11.30 CASTLETHORPE (AUS) 60.0 110 12 A Delpech Mike Bass
14 12.55 DEPARDIEU 60.0 107 8 K Neisius Dean Kannemeyer


Extracts from Tab News / Gold Circle (p)