Variety Club underlined his status as one of the best three-year-old milers around and entrenched himself as a leading Guineas prospect when he narrowly won the Selangor Cup over 1600m on the Kenilworth winter course on Sunday. The colt is now unbeaten from two starts this season after capturing the Gr 3 Matchem Stakes over 1400m at Durbanville in October, writes Matthew Lips
Gimmethegreenlight had put up an excellent effort when beaten about a neck by Depardieu in the G3 Cape Classic over 1400m four weeks earlier and now met Depardieu on 4 kgs better terms. Not surprisingly, Gimmethegreenlight had plenty of supporters for the Selangor and started as the 18/10 favourite in a field of eleven in this conditions event for three-year-olds. Variety Club and unbeaten Liancourt Rock were the 3/1 joint second favourites.
It was Liancourt Rock and Depardieu’s stable companion Lord Paramount who ensured a decent gallop from the start, immediately going out to make the running ahead of Variety Club and Agarkar, with Gimmethegreenlight and Master Mascus keeping each other company in behind that as Depardieu raced further adrift and Silver Haven brought up the rear. Lord Paramount was running on empty not long after turning into the straight, where Variety Club went to the inside rail to launch his challenge and Gimmethegreenlight quickly came forward wider out. Liancourt Rock began to make progress after racing some six or seven lengths off the early pace, but the Selangor turned into a two-horse race inside the final 200m.
It could have gone either way between Gimmethegreenlight and Variety Club for much of the last furlong, and the favourite appeared at one stage to perhaps be going ever so slightly the better of the two, but Anton Marcus galvanized a little extra out of Variety Club to seize the advantage close home and beat the favourite by a long head. Gimmethegreenlight may not have been done any favours by having to deliver his challenge wide out, whereas Variety Club had the inside rail to help him steer the shortest way home, but Variety Club fully deserved his success.
Liancourt Rock was not disgraced in his first attempt at Stakes level and finished third, but he was no real match for the two that beat him despite receiving 1 kg from the runner-up and 1.5 kgs from the winner. Depardieu looked to be up against it at the weights and finished a never dangerous fourth, running more or less to the form which saw him finish fourth behind Variety Club on identical weight terms in the Matchem. Port Elizabeth raider In A Rush had narrowly beaten Variety Club when narrowly winning a Gr 3 event over 1400m at Fairview in July, but their careers have gone in separate directions since. He was slow away on this occasion and was never travelling well as he lagged towards the rear of the Selangor field throughout.
It’s hard to imagine any of the Selangor field beyond the first two finishers having a serious chance of winning the Gr 1 Cape Premier Yearling Sale Guineas in December, and there could again be little between them in that classic even though Variety Club will meet Gimmethegreenlight on a relatively minor 0.5 kgs better terms. Both colts appeared to see out the 1600m very well, and more than one winner of the Selangor has gone on to win the Guineas in the past. It’s scarcely beyond the bounds of possibility that Variety Club will do likewise, although one gets the impression that Liancourt Rock may not be as good as his unbeaten stable companion Divine Jet. The latter was a notable absentee on Sunday and has yet to be tested in Feature race company, but he looks ultra promising and looks likely to line up for the Guineas.
Still, Variety Club has proven .his class with three Graded race victories under his girth, having also won the Gr 3 Langerman over 1500m as a two-year-old last season. He has every right to be treated very seriously as a Guineas prospect, and he has the heart to go with his obvious talent. Trained by Joey Ramsden, Variety Club is by Var and is the tenth foal – and seventh winner – produced from Secret Prospector mare La Massine, who won one race over 1200m. Bred by Anton Shepherd at Beaumont Stud and a R425 000 from the now discontinued Equimark Vintage Yearling Sale in 2010, Variety Club has won five times from eight starts for R519 816 in stakes.