The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate racing festival was once again a resounding success with a bumper crowd, and plenty of class in attendance both on and off track.
And in what was considered the strongest field ever assembled for this Grade 1 race, Vardy proved his Green Point Stakes victory was no fluke as he raced past the opposition to beat One World, with Rainbow Bridge in third.
“I can’t believe how easily he won,” said delighted jockey Craig Zackey. “This horse is definitely one of the loves of my life. We all know how good he is after today.” With a flood of late money coming for Hawwaam, who went off at 5-10, Vardy dried to 17-2. One World started at 16-1 and Rainbow Bridge at 12-1.
Fourth spot went to Twist Of Fate at 55-1 which saw a Quartet payout of R5,812.80. This was the second Grade 1 win for trainer Adam Marcus and Zackey as they had teamed up last month to win the Cape Fillies Guineas on Mississippi Burning.
Hawwaam ran fifth, beaten 3.30 lengths, and trainer Mike de Kock put the disappointing run down in the main to two factors – what happened at the start and “not a very good ride from Anton Marcus”.
The start of the race had a 25 minute delay as first the shoes of Pack Leader and Twist Of Fate had to be replaced and then both Do It Again and 7-10 favourite Hawwaam had to have their respective bridles refitted.
“The shenanigans at the start left me speechless,” said De Kock. “Why do these things never happen in maiden plates? These horses are temperamental and get very worked up at the start. Even Soqrat, who is the most laid back horse you can get, was getting distressed at the start.
That we have this happen in one of the top Grade 1 races in the country has le me gobsmacked.” Justin Snaith, however, was not bothered by the incident at the start. “That’s just part of racing,” he said. There was also a fire across the way and smoke continued to billow on to the course which could not have helped the issue.
While it was not as bad as the first in the carpark during the Met a number of years back, it did cause a haze all over the racecourse.
De Kock also felt Marcus did not hold his place on the rail from No 1 draw and ended up going around Rainbow Bridge to take him on. Had he stayed on the rail Hawwaam would have got cover.
“I suppose one just needs to put a line through this run,” said De Kock, adding: “but take nothing away from Vardy. He is a very good horse and he won a very good race.”
Everybody expected Crown Towers to set a fast pace but he battled to get over from the outside draw and made li le impact to the race.
It was clear early in the straight that Hawwaam was under pressure but just as Rainbow Bridge and One World looked as if they would fight it out, Zackey came flying up aboard Vardy to win going away.
Adam Marcus said he felt Vardy now was looking at further than 1600m and he was looking forward to see how he performs in the Sun Met on 1 February.
Owners Bernard Kantor, Greg Blank, Darryl Yutar and Jimmy Sarkis could take this son of Var to the Breeders Cup meeting in the USA later in the year.