Vardy, 5-2 favourite for Sunday week’s Gold Challenge, has come on considerably since his reappearance third in the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes according to Adam Marcus.
The Milnerton trainer, based at Summerveld for most of the KZN season, said on Wednesday: “His Drill Hall run might have looked a little disappointing at first glance but it had been so difficult to plan preparations for these horses without knowing when racing was going to continue. He hadn’t had a racecourse gallop and was going into the Drill Hall off one grass gallop at Summerveld and some sand work. Also he had never been on a clockwise turn.
“He was a little bit above himself on the day and he travelled a bit hard which is not like him – he usually comes from further back. The race did him the world of good and he has responded to it exceptionally well. He has tightened up beautifully and so far his preparation has been very good.”
Craig Zackey again has the mount on the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner at Hollywoodbets Greyville while Donovan Dillon will partner stable companion Twist Of Fate (below).
This represents a change of plan for last year’s Vodacom Durban July third as Marcus had planned to keep him away from the big weight-for-age races in his build-up to the July.
He explained: “In the WSB Cup Trial he was going to be handicapped out of it because several of the higher-rated horses are running in the Gold Challenge and, although he is looking for more ground than a mile, I feel he needs another run under his belt before the big one.”
Missisippi Burning (below) is second favourite for the 1 400m Tibouchina on Sunday week but the WSB Cape Fillies Guineas and KZN Fillies Guineas winner is also second favourite for the Woolavington 2000 on the same card – and she may not run in either race!
Marcus explained: “She is drawn wide (17) in the Tibouchina so that is doubtful and, while we are still making a final decision, my gut feeling is that 2 000m is too far for her.
“She has done us proud and she owes us nothing so I want to put her in races where I know it’s the correct distance and things are in her favour. She is KZN-bred so the KZN Breeders Mile on July 19 could be a possibility.
Copy: Michael Clower, Images: Chase Liebenberg Designs