ANTON Marcus, re-united with Variety Club, took his star partner for a walk aroundthe parade ring at Sha-Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong after his morning workout at the track on Thursday.
The ring, or ‘mounting paddock’ at Sha-Tin is surrounded by high spectator stands which gives it a fish bowl-like atmosphere but adds notably to the almost tangible excitement just minutes before top races like Sunday’s Gr1 Champions Mile.
Variety Club had galloped on turf prior to his exploratory walk, clocking 50.9s with fractions of 28.3 and then 22.6s over the last 400m of his run.
Trevor Brown, assistant to trainer Mike de Kock, conceded his team would have some thinking to do after the five-year-old drew 12 of 14 runners: “We’ll see about that,” he said when asked if his charge would attempt to lead. “It’s Hong Kong and they don’t generally just hand you the lead here. Variety Club generally goes forward but he has been ridden off the pace and won at home in South Africa. We’ll have a think about what we might do.”
Mike himself will head up the think-tank before the $12-million race on Sunday – he will be saddling Variety Club for Markus and Ingrid Jooste in the hope that the son of VAR can break the stronghold held by local milers – a Hong Kong entry has won this prestigious race the last nine years in a row since its inception in 2001.
Top Hong Kong trainer John Moore has won the Mile five times and interestingly the riding honours for the 13-year period are shared by Darren Beadman, Brett Prebble and Weichong Marwing, with two wins apiece.
No news or press releases from Tellytrack could be found which leaves us to expect that, like last week’s QEII Cup, the event will not be televised despite major South African representation.