Vardy can keep his star billing

PUBLISHED: 31 January 2020

Vardy (Liesl King)

Vardy can live up to his star billing at Kenilworth tomorrow and become only the second horse in the last decade to complete the Queen’s Plate-Sun Met double. Hawwaam and Rainbow Bridge look the two biggest dangers.

But punters should avoid getting sucked in if there is a wholesale gamble on the horse and he ends up shorter than 2-1 – as he well might because most tipsters seem to think he is the one. He hardened from 3-1 (a fair price) to 28-10 joint favourite yesterday morning but starting at the head of the market in this race has proved a no-no in recent years with the last seven favourites all expensively biting the dust.

Vardy (Liesl King)
Vardy (Liesl King)

Craig Zackey’s mount produced a devastating turn of foot to land the L’Ormarins showpiece three weeks ago and he won like a class horse but his Achilles heel could well be his pedigree. He is not bred to be a ten furlong horse and, while there are some in the family who have won over the trip, they have not done so at this level.

Furthermore he is up against two exceptional animals in the half-brothers Hawwaam and Rainbow Bridge, even though both are complex characters who test their trainers to the limits of their skill, patience and understanding.

Forget Hawwaam’s last run – the 22 minute delay at the start was the last thing he needed – and instead recall the brilliance he has shown in the past. He eased from 5-2 to 28-10 yesterday but he is fully entitled to be as short as that. Mike de Kock has described the betting as ridiculous but bookmakers – and punters – are influenced by reputation as much as form and the trainer’s has long been sky high while not even Ryan Moore is better than Anton Marcus in South Africa.

Just as Vardy’s weakness could be his pedigree, so Hawwaam’s is his temperament and he has to somehow survive all the noise and general hullaboloo that goes with Met day. Hopefully the bands and musicians will be instructed to keep the volume down but they have not always ridden to orders in the past.

The horse’s family has a highly strung element and for race after race Rainbow Bridge had to have the sweat cleaned off before dancing edgily round the parade ring. It never stopped him running a tremendous race and 12 months ago he came into his own inside the final furlong. Currently third favourite at 4-1, he has a big chance of winning the race again, this time in the hands of a man many regard as the greatest big race jockey in the world.

Do It Again, at one time as short as 33-10, is now available at more than twice that price after having had to be put on antibiotics following his disappointing Queen’s Plate run. He is, though, a class act and officially the best horse in the race. He finished second 12 months ago, despite not getting the run of the race, but it’s hard to see him going one better after such a worrying preparation.

It’s even harder to make a case for any of the other nine runners. Twist Of Fate (16-1) can be relied up on to run his usual honest race as can 15-1 shot One World although there are doubts about him lasting out the final furlong. The notorious Cape crawl could, of course, put the cat among the fancied pigeons but hopefully Head Honcho’s penchant for the front will ensure that doesn’t happen.

Pick 6 selections:

Race 4: Alramz

Race 5: Sachdev

Race 6: Silver Host

Race 7: Run Fox Run

Race 8: Front And Centre

Race 9: Vardy

By Michael Clower