Vardy makes his ‘Point’

PUBLISHED: 17 December 2019

Vardy (Liesl King)

Vardy’s Sun Met price has been slashed from 16-1 to 5-1 third favourite in the wake of last Saturday’s World Sports Betting Green Point Stakes victory. Hawwaam still heads the market at 17-10 but Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge have eased to 4-1 and 13-2.

But, while there is no denying Vardy’s claims, there was so much bumping and barging that the Green Point would not have been out of place at the rugby stadium down the road at Newlands and in the weighing room afterwards there were more hard luck stories than in the bankruptcy courts.

Vardy (Liesl King)
Vardy (Liesl King)

Some of the trainers were particularly aggrieved at seeing weeks of carefully planned preparation sacrificed on an altar of interference. “It was a rough race, not what we wanted at all,” said Justin Snaith. “Do It Again was bumped round the turn and it bothered him so much that he didn’t want to run on and then he was checked again.”

Brett Crawford added: “Undercover Agent suffered bad interference at the 1 000m mark and was nearly put over the fence.”

The jockeys, too, were complaining – “The winner ran right across me,” said Gavin Lerena who was squeezed so badly when Vardy hung in that he had to stop riding Rainbow Bridge for several strides. Had he finished second rather than third he might well have had grounds for an objection. His mount came back with an abrasion behind his left fore fetlock

The all-seeing replays in the boardroom showed Rainbow Bridge pulling hard early and Lerena tucking him in to get cover, causing Richard Fourie to ride Do It Again to hold his position. Undercover Agent, on the rails, also suffered. The stipes are to hold a further inquiry into this part of the race.

Vardy, when mounting his challenge, hung in badly just as he had done earlier in the year but this time the stipes were satisfied that Craig Zackey had done all he reasonably could to keep his mount on a straight course. However Adam Marcus was advised to “ensure that this horse does not behave similarly in future.” Easier said than done.

Marcus was convinced that the winner was nowhere near ready – and presumably his printed comments had a lot to do with the Var gelding drifting from 4-1 to 7-1. “To cruise past July, Queen’s Plate and Met winners was unbelievable,” he said. “The last two of those races are now the target but our over-riding priority is to ensure that he remains sound.”

The priorities for Mario Ferreira’s Missisippi Burning have yet to be decided. “She is very small and the way she won was incredible but we will now sit down and look at the programme,” said Marcus after the Rathmor-bred Captain Al filly had given the 30-year-old his first Grade 1 in the WSB Cape Fillies Guineas.

Zackey shone, securing a beautiful run mostly up the rails to hit the front 150m out on the 22-1 shot. However 2-1 favourite Kelpie managed only sixth and seemingly we over-estimated her ability. “Look at her rating (99) and bear in mind that is equivalent to the old 89,” said Anton Marcus. “I was happy with the run but she is very progressive and she will be better in time.”

Eric Sands’ view that Driving Miss Daisy and Larentina were unlucky in the Western Cape Fillies was borne out by them finishing second and fourth with Third Runway (winner of that race) third. There should be another day for all three.

Sean Tarry has six in Saturday’s Cape Guineas including Pure State who beat main home hope Rio Querari half a length in the CTS Ready To Run, fourth-placed Rock The Globe and Invisible (fifth).

The champion trainer, winning the race in Chris van Niekerk’s colours for the third time in four years, said: “It’s not my style to run horses in races only a week apart but they are in Cape Town and I’m certainly going to run one or two. I will see how they pull up.”

Piere Strydom, who made much of the running on the 16-1 winner, said that he needed to “fill up the bank account after all the meetings we’ve lost in Jo’burg.” Nine per cent of R1.25 million should help.

Run Fox Run, who impressively extended her unbeaten stretch to five in the WSB Southern Cross, seems likely to go straight for the Cape Flying Championship rather than take in the Cartier Sceptre three weeks earlier.

Brett Crawford said: “I have put a lot of thought into this. The Sceptre is only a Group 2 and she doesn’t need a race in between. Also it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go up to 1 200m and then come back to 1 000m. I will discuss it with the owners.”

Fellow Ridgemont star Front And Centre, who readily won the Pinnacle, goes for the Paddock Stakes and the Majorca. Seemingly her Durban form was all wrong – “She got into the habit of hanging there and it cost her the Woolavington while In the Garden Province she never raised a gallop,” said Crawford.

Winter Derby winner Dharma, who just held Crome Yellow in the Cape Summer Stayers despite Anthony Andrews’ slipping saddle, is being aimed at the Western Cape Stayers on Met day. Owned and bred by the jockey’s parents, the four-year-old is trained on behalf of her father by Lucinda Woodruff who is the girlfriend of Adam Marcus. Seemingly a match made, if not in heaven, at least in Milnerton!

By Michael Clower