No plans for Variety Club in Australia

Quarantine protocols are likely to rob Australia of seeing the world’s best miler, Variety Club.

The five-year-old, a two-time South African horse of the year, confirmed himself as a superstar giving Hong Kong’s best a shellacking as he won the Champions Mile at Sha Tin on Sunday.

He had been racing's best kept secret but is under wraps no more after a four-length victory from favourite Able Friend with Dan Excel another 1¼ lengths away in third.

His Hong Kong victory is in addition to a pair of wins over the mile distance in Dubai on the Tapeta track but he is unlikely to be seen racing in Australia.

"It is so hard for us to leave our country and then to get to yours is hard again. Why would we do that when there are races like this we can get too easier?" trainer Mike de Kock said.

"The plan when we left [South Africa] was this race because it will help his value as a stallion.

"We didn't pay up for Royal Ascot because you can't dance every dance but the Breeders Cup would be the next race we would like to win. The mile races are the races that make stallions.

"Australia would interest me but only if it gets a bit easier."

The South African had 19 starts before taking the five months off needed to leave his homeland under quarantine requirements. That was only after he had achieved everything he could there.

He went to Dubai with an eight-race winning streak and added the group 3 Firebreak Stakes and the group 2 Godolphin Mile to his list of wins, both over 1600 metres.

De Kock arrived in Hong Kong confident Variety Club would show his best and he did, tearing down barriers with his victory.

He became the first international to win the Champions Mile and the first to do so from a double-figure barrier.

Variety Club, from barrier 12, got to the outside of the leader and then controlled the speed of the race but even his trainer was worried coming to the turn.

"He has a massive stride and has the ability to hold it for longer than any other horse I have had," de Kock said.

"He was able to get across [the field] easily and that helps but, coming to the turn, I had seen the sectionals [times] they had run and I thought 'what has he got left'?"

Variety Club had plenty in the tank as he stormed clear leaving the locals to fight it out for the minor money.

"He went 22 [seconds] and change for that second quarter of the race [400 metres] and that’s where he won it," de Kock said.

"He had them all out of their comfort zone and still in his, obviously."

Able Friend, which was the Hong Kong Derby runner-up at his previous start, didn't have a lot of luck, posted three-wide throughout the race but jockey Joao Moreira offered no excuse.

"A really good run after being three-wide all the way from the worst draw," Moreira said. "No disgrace to run second to a very good horse."

Variety Club's jockey Anton Marcus labelled it his career highlight. "It doesn’t get better," he said.

George Ryder Stakes winner Gordon Lord Byron could only manage a midfield finish.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop