Jack Milner
2 minute read
21 Jun 2016
6:10 am

Varumba has the edge

Jack Milner

Danger Azarenka returns from lengthy break.

It is always worth noting the equipment a trainer may use to improve the performance of a horse. Blinkers, cheek pieces, pacifiers, tongue ties are all used with the hope they will make a positive difference.

Sometimes one has to use trial and error to find what will work and once unearthed, continue to use that tried and trusted method. With that in mind it seems possible Cape Town-based trainer Vaughan Marshall has left us with a slight conundrum.

When Varumba won her second start, the only noted fitted equipment used were alumites on her hooves. Subsequently blinkers were added and on their own they failed to evoke a second victory from this daughter of Var.

Then, in September last year, Marshall added a tongue tie to the alumites and blinkers in a race over 1300m at Durbanville. They did the trick and Varumba led from start to finish and easily beat Night In Tahiti by 1.25 lengths.

For her next start the tongue tie was removed and she finished a 2.65-length third behind Amarillo Rose over 1400m at Kenilworth. Varumba was given a short break and came back to contest the $1-million CTS Million over 1400m at Kenilworth but from No 16 draw she was probably doomed to the “also rans”, irrespective of what equipment was used.

For that race and her next two, she raced without the blinkers but fitted with a tongue tie but that changed in her last start in which Marshall reverted to all three – alumites, blinkers and tongue tie – and the result was a gutsy start-to finish victory over highly regarded Chevauchee, a winner of her next start, in a Conditions Plate over 1000m at Kenilworth.

Varumba contests another Conditions Plate over the same course and distance today and once again she will race in blinkers and a tongue tie. In addition she is one of the best handicapped runners under the race conditions and looks the runner they all have to beat. MJ Byleveld is back aboard.

Trainer Justin Snaith originally had three runners but Jo’s Bond has been scratched and that has reduced the field to just seven contenders. Included among what is now Snaith’s duo is Azarenka, who is the highest rated runner.

She did well to finish just five lengths behind Brutal Force in the CTS Million over 1200m last year but has not raced since March last year and as a result the handicappers have dropped her merit rating by three points.

She does have a good record of one win, two seconds and two thirds in five starts over the course and distance so if close to peak fitness, the four-year-old daughter of Windrush must be in with a chance.