VARIETY Club, twice Horse Of The Year in South Africa, took Dubai by storm on his Meydan debut, Thursday evening. He controlled the Gr3 Firebreak Stakes (USD200,000) over 1600m on the all-weather track and strode away in his customary commanding fashion for a two-length win in 1:35.67 – a new course record had it not been hand-timed!
Variety Club (Anton Marcus) wins the Firebreak Stakes at Meydan.
This was an exciting and successful Dubai debut, too, for owners Markus and Ingrid Jooste and trainer Joey Ramsden, who had spent the last two weeks at Mike de Kock’s yard putting Variety Club through his paces in preparation for the race.
Jockey Anton Marcus, last seen in Dubai when he won the 2008 Dubai Duty Free on Jay Peg, was all smiles after Variety Club’s win, commenting “This is great for me and South African racing and it’s a relief as well. He is a superstar at home and well done to connections for bringing him here.
“There was a vision for this horse and it’s fantastic that the first leg of this plan has come to fruition. Hopefully he will turn out to be a serious Dubai World Cup horse – though we could always go back to turf if need be. He is versatile, classy and has a big heart.”
Derek Brugman (with owner’s trophy), Anton Marcus and Joey Ramsden at the post-race awards ceremony.
(Photos by Andrew Watkins).
This was Variety Club’s 15th win from 20 career starts. Having been off the track for eight months prior to the Firebreak Stakes, he will undoubtedly improve as he settles down with this run behind him.
The ‘hand-held’ time – an unofficial recording according to the TDN website, the only source we could find at this writing, is not an issue often encountered. We are unable to report why no official running time was taken, but when the timer pressed his stopwatch Variety Club had bettered the 1:35:77 set by Skysurfers when he won this race in 2011.
There are many experts who swear by comparative times as the best yardstick for form. Unless the hand holding the timer was a little shaky, we can assume that Variety Club’s 1:35:67 was more or less correct, which adds more merit to the obvious. The second horse, Haatheq, himself quite accomplished over this course and distance, finished second to Mike’s talented Soft Falling Rain in last season’s Gr2 Godolphin Mile when the winner’s time was 1:39.97 – more than 4s slower than the unofficial record in question.
A lot of blah-blah, maybe, but one thing’s for sure: We’ll see more action from Variety Club at this Carniival. Well done to Joey and his connections!