Only once in the last ten years has the Queen’s Plate winner gone on take the Met in the same season. The extra two furlongs has often turned out to be a bridge too far – some didn’t see it out while others, notably Legal Eagle, were not as effective over it.
Vardy has been backed down to second favourite for Saturday’s Sun International highlight but, if you are putting your money down, it could be worth bearing in mind that there are doubts about him having the necessary stamina to follow in Futura’s 2015 footsteps.
He is by the European champion sprinter Var, none of whose progeny has won a Grade 1 beyond a mile. Vardy’s dam (by Jet Master) did not race and her Cape Fillies Guineas-winning sisters Ebony Flyer and Captain’s Lover did not win over further than 1 800m. She has produced two winning foals in addition to Vardy – Shallcross who won a humble 2 400m maiden at Fairview (but it took her until she was four to do it) while Eros’s Girl won the 2 000m East Cape Oaks at the Port Elizabeth course.
“Eros’s Girl beat little of note in that race and two of her four wins came over 1 200m,” says pedigree expert Sarah Whitelaw. “On paper I have my doubts about Vardy getting the 2 000m of the Met.”
Nobody knows Var and his progeny better than Pippa Mickleburgh and the Avontuur general manager points out that his daughter Princess Of Light was only beaten three-quarters of a length (by In Writing) in the 2012 Gold Cup when it was a Grade 1.
“Personally I think Vardy will make it on Saturday because the female line is quite stout,” she says. “The way he races will definitely help but 2 000m will be the maximum of his range.”
Trainers tend to be optimistic in such circumstances and Adam Marcus is no exception – “Vardy is a very athletic horse, he has a lot of size to him and he switches off so beautifully that I don’t think going an extra 200m or 400m is going to have much effect.”
Marcus points to Vardy’s two and a quarter-length defeat of One World in last season’s 1 800m Winter Classic (although One World was thought to be feeling the effects of a tough season that day and was promptly put away until this term). “I thought that was a great performance from Vardy and I don’t see why the 2 000m on Saturday should be an issue.”
Indeed Marcus believes that Craig Zackey’s mount has improved since the L’Ormarins showpiece. “From what I have seen so far he has certainly come on from the race. My norm is to give horses a couple of really easy days after a race but he was jumping out of his skin to such an extent that I had to get him going again.”
The way Vardy is usually ridden, from the back and coming with a sustained run, should help but there will be no specific orders to hold him up. “The horse is versatile – he has won coming from last and from sitting in the box seat – and I will let Craig make the decisions. If Vardy flies out of the gates and Craig finds himself in a handy position, I don’t want him to feel he has to ease the horse out of it.”
Aldo Domeyer will similarly not be tied to orders on 16-1 shot Twist Of Fate – “I am going to leave things to him. The trip should be more suitable than the mile of the Queen’s Plate and the horse has a lot in his favour.”
BLOB The field is down to 13 – the same as last season’s race and jointly the smallest in the last 25 years – following yesterday’s scratching of longshot Roy Had Enough with a tendon injury.
By Michael Clower