Young Milnerton trainer Adam Marcus took another step up the ladder in his fast ascending career when he celebrated his second Gr1 success.
It was also another L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate victory for Avontuur superstar Var, when the lightly-raced 4yo Vardy streaked to victory in the 159th running of the R1,5 million weight-for-age mile at a sundrenched Kenilworth on Saturday.
Variety Club was Var’s previous LQP winner back in 2013, but it has been a champagne few weeks for the 30 year old Marcus.
Three weeks ago the son of South Africa’s champion international jockey Basil Marcus trained his maiden Gr1 winner when Missisippi Burning – like Vardy, ridden by Craig Zackey – won the Cape Fillies Guineas at the same venue.
Labelled as the likely race of the season, and with weeks of feverish marketing in the build-up, the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate hit shaky ground on the eve of the off with a twenty minute delay at the start as a result of various issues.
Apparently the eventual winner’s stablemate Twist Of Fate and the Kotzen longshot Pack Leader spread shoes, while defending champion Do It Again had an issue with his bridle. We are yet to have sight of the Stipes report but Richard Fourie labelled it ‘chaos at the start’ in a later interview.
The field was eventually despatched after the lengthy delay to an even break, and it was Crown Towers who predictably went up to lead from Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Hawwaam.
In the run for home, Crown Towers drifted out as Rainbow Bridge looked dangerous.
But with Hawwaam going up and down, and One World staying on, it was Vardy (17-2) who unleashed a powerful run from last, and set himself up as a serius Sun Met candidate as he soared down the Kenilworth straight.
He went straight as an arrow in his new bit to beat the gallant One World (16-1) by 1,25 lengths in a time of 97 secs flat.
Rainbow Bridge (12-1) was always thereabouts but had nothing to come and finished a neck away in third, with Marcus rounding off the quartet with Twist Of Fate (55-1) beaten a further three quarters of a length in fourth.
The odds-on favourite Hawwaam was beaten 3,30 lengths into fifth after looking quite uncomfortable and unsettled in running.
Defending champion Do It Again (8-1) was a length behind Hawwaam in another flat run from the dual July winner.
His stablemate Soqrat was never in the race and ran close on 9 lengths back in an antic-climax for the De Kock team after their Paddock Stakes high of an hour earlier.
British High Commissioner Nigel Casey presented the trophies.
A breathless Mauritzfontein-Wilgerbosdrift sponsored Craig Zackey said afterwards that he ‘knew he was going to win’.
“He was off the bit throughout the race and then he picked it up turning for home. He has a turn of foot like no other!” he added.
Trainer Adam Marcus is getting used to the big days. He said that Vardy came from last ‘and that’s no easy feat!’
“The plan was to sit midfield – but with the delay the guys wanted to get going. I’m thrilled and so happy for the owners and my team,” said Marcus, who will now be looking at SA Champions Season box bookings at Summerveld – but the Sun Met is only three weeks away!
Bred by the Tawny Syndicate/ Klawervlei, Vardy is out of the unraced Jet Master mare Cupid.
He is a son of Avontuur’s superstar flagbearer Var (Forest Wildcat).
Racing in the same silks as those carried by Do It Again, who won last year, Vardy has won 6 races with 3 places from 9 starts for stakes of R2 302 200 for Bernard Kantor, Greg Blank, Jimmy Sarkis and Darryl Yutar.
Vardy’s half-brother by Gimmethegreenlight comes up as #174 on Thursday’s Cape Premier Yearling Sale.
Gr1 L’ormarins Queen’s Plate (SAf-Gr1)
Kenilworth, South Africa, January 11, R1.5 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.37.37
1 – VARDY (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Var (USA) – Cupid (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF). Owner Messrs B Kantor, G L Blank, J Sarkis & D Yutar; Breeder Tawny Syndicate; trainer AN Marcus; jockey C Zackey
2 – One World (SAF), 60.0, b c 4, Captain Al (SAF) – Aquilonia (USA) by Giant’s Causeway (USA)
3 – Rainbow Bridge (SAF), 60.0, b g 5, Ideal World (USA) – Halfway To Heaven (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF)
Margins: 1.25, 0.05, 0.75