TRAINER Joey Ramsden has spent the last week-and-a-half in the company of Mike de Kock at Blue Stables in Dubai, overseeing the preparation of South Africa’s Horse Of The Year Variety Club, who makes his UAE debut at Meydan on Thursday.
Variety Club will take his place in the Firebreak Stakes (USD200,000) over 1600m on the all-weather track and, with eight of his fourteen career wins posted over a mile (including four Gr1’s), the five-year-old by Var is widely expected to make this Gr3 contest a walk in the park.
Variety Club on the work track at Meydan.
Ramsden told mikedekockracing.com on Tuesday afrternoon: “It’s all systems go for Variety Club. He’s had a marvellous preparation and he hasn’t missed a day’s work. Nothing appears to have gone wrong and touchwood it all comes together in the race.”
While Variety Club seems to have taken very well to the all-weather track in some impressive exercise work, Ramsden pointed out that there is a natural concern whether his work will carry through into the race itself.
“The track is our one worry. We know that there are any number of horses who work well on tapeta while being prepared, but don’t perform in the pressure of an actual race. Of course there are others who do reproduce their work on this surface and we’re hoping it will be smooth sailing for Variety Club. He’s well, he’s enjoying himself and it’s been a pleasure being here and sharing this build-up with Mike and his team.”
This is a big moment indeed for Ramsden – this is his first runner in Dubai and while he “won’t be jumping off a building” if Variety Club wins, he’s suitably excited by the opportunity all the same. Variety Club’s owners, Markus and Ingrid Jooste, won’t be attending the meeting but their racing manager, Derek Brugman, will be flying in to perform his official duties.
Ramsden, who has long been considered to have a novel in him, blogs daily on his website, www.joeyramsden.com.
He wrote, on Monday:
All the horses are looking extremely well and I am having loads of fun and banter with Mr de Kock, Trevor Brown and Andrew Nienaber. Andrew has been looking after and riding Variety Club. Johnny Geroudis is also over here from Mauritius. It is also great to have superman himself, Anton Marcus, here who is doing an excellent job of taking the mickey out of me most of the time. Little does he know it is all going into the memory reserves and I will be back with a vengeance later on.
This morning (Monday) Variety Club did a light canter after having a big blow out on Thursday when he did a nice piece of work with what I believe is a very good Group 2 winning 7 furlong horse of Mike’s. All were impressed but the only difference is that was on the grass and he will be racing on the tapeta. This is really venturing into no man’s land as far as all of us are concerned. He runs in the Firebreak Stakes on Thursday over a mile. It is a Group 3 race but we don’t have the draconian rules of Group 1 penalties lasting so long for horses so his Group 1 penalty does not apply here and he is able to run off a reasonable mark. Everyone is extremely excited and I personally cannot wait for race day on Thursday.
For more from Ramsden’s pen, click on www.joeyramsden.com