Vodacom Durban July third favourite Vardy was soundly beaten by his stable companion Twist Of Fate in their official Vodacom Durban July gallop on the Summerveld bottom grass track last Thursday but this was of no concern to trainer Adam Marcus.
He said, “Twist Of Fate is a very good work horse, at home there are very few horses who can beat him when paired up, and Vardy, you put him with a weak maiden and he will come out second best, so he just does what he needs to do, he saves it all for the racecourse.”
Twist Of Fate is no slouch on the racecourse too and finished third in last year’s July.
Marcus continued, “Twist Of Fate I thought put up an exceptional gallop and has come through it exceptionally well. I thought he strode out well and just the manner and the way he did the gallop I was very impressed.”
“Vardy always gallops in a laid back manner, so I was very chuffed with him, he strode out well, he’s also come through his gallop very well, so very pleased.”
“We’re going into the final week confident that their level of well-being is where we want it to be and they are looking great.”
There looks likely to be a good pace this year and Marcus elaborated, “We always hope they are true run races. Silvano’s pride is in the race and Padre Pio also has a lot of natural speed so hopefully it’s a true run race. I hope it is not a case of just a lot of early speed to get their positions and then everyone starts putting the brakes on and easing back. If they maintain the pace throughout the race then it’s going to be a true run race and the best horse should win.”
It was put to Marcus that Vardy, who has plenty of speed and who has never raced this far before, might not want a fast pace.
He replied, “I am always of the opinion we don’t need a fast pace for Vardy but we don’t want a crawl either. He got caught out in the Grade 1 last time (Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge) where the race was actually given to Rainbow Bridge, who just dictated at his own pace and sprinted for home. So, we don’t want them to be going flat out because then it is a very testing 2200m, but if they can go a fair pace throughout that will give them every chance.”
Twist of Fate wore blinkers for the first time in his career in last year’s July and will where them on Saturday for the first time since joining the Marcus yard.
Adam said, “He’s is going to go positive. We’re fitting the blinkers on him, so I want him to be up there, obviously not to lead but just behind that early speed. He’s still a colt and he’s starting to think a little bit in his work and I just think the quarter cup blinkers should benefit him.”
The blinkers help such a horse stay focused.
The Vodacom Durban July is the one missing piece in the jigsaw for Adam and his immediate family, although the extended family have five victories, all through his record-breaking uncle Anton.
Adam elaborated, “It is the one race that has eluded my Dad, although he obviously spent the majority of his riding years overseas, so there is a space in the trophy cabinet for it.”
By David Thiselton