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Variety Club Cruises to Easy Group 3 Victory in the Firebreak Stakes

Variety Club (SAF)
Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Long John Makes Short Work of UAE 2000 Guineas Field on Night Full of World Cup Clues

On a Dubai World Cup Carnival night that featured three Group 3 contests, Australian galloper Long John and dual South African Horse of the Year, Variety Club emerged as serious Dubai World Cup day contenders..

With just seven weeks until the world’s richest day of racing, trainers are beginning to lay down markers as to the likely port of call for their charges on Saturday March 29.

South African jockey, Anton Marcus was last seen in Dubai when he won the 2008 Dubai Duty Free on Jay Peg and he also made his second visit count last night, when partnering Variety Club to an impressive victory in the Group 3 US$200,000 Firebreak Stakes over 1600m of the all-weather track for trainer, Joey Ramsden.

Marcus can fully expect to be in action on another Dubai World Cup night following the eye-catching performance of his mount.

“This is great for me and South African racing and it’s a relief as well,” he said. “He is a superstar at home and well done to connections for bringing him here. There was a vision for this horse and it’s fantastic that the first leg of this plan has come to fruition.

“Hopefully he will turn out to be a serious Dubai World Cup horse – though we could always go back to turf if need be. He is versatile, classy and has a big heart.”

Trainer Joey Ramsden, saddling his first UAE runner, was present to greet his winner who quickened away from his field early in the straight and was in control from a long way out – posting a fast time in the process.

Last week it was Godolphin’s Ihtimal, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, in the UAE 1000 Guineas, this week it was the Charlie Appleby-trained Long John who impressed with Classic victory, easily winning the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas, over 1600m on the all-weather.

Winner of the 2013 Group 1 Caulfield Guineas in his native Australia, Long John stormed clear 500m out under Mickael Barzalona, who was winning the race for the third time in four years.

The gelding showed an impressive burst of speed, making short work of the rest of the field and a clearly impressed Barzalona said: “I was happy to commit for home as this horse will certainly stay further and he has proved himself a Group 1 horse in Australia.

“We were hopeful but I do not think we expected a win quite like that.”

The 1200m Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint was dominated by Irish connections, with the Mick Halford-trained Russian Soul hanging on grimly under the urgings of Shane Foley to deny Jamesie, trained by compatriot David Marnane. It was a third consecutive week that Halford and Foley have enjoyed Dubai World Cup Carnival success.

“It has just been brilliant and all ours have run well but improved for their first run, as has this fellow. He loves the all-weather and travels so strongly,” said Foley.

“All being well he will be back on Super Saturday and then Dubai World Cup night – be it on the turf or the all-weather.”

The concluding 2435m turf handicap went to Godolphin’s Songcraft, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa.

The opening all-weather handicap, over the same 2000m as the Dubai World Cup, was won smoothly by the Mike De Kock-trained Sanshaawes, opening his local account at the second attempt.

Having his first race on the all-weather, he travelled well under Christophe Soumillon and the pair hit the front 300m out, running on far too strongly for their 13 rivals.

Soumillon explained: “We knew that if he handled the surface as well as he does in training he would be hard to beat and he has really enjoyed it.

“Hopefully he can go on from this.”

Trainer and jockey completed a handicap double with Vercingetorix maintaining his unbeaten record in the 1800m turf handicap. Soumillon was happy to bide his time in mid division, before making smooth progress 600m out taking his mount to the front almost 400m out.

They ran on strongly to make it five wins from five starts and Soumillon said: “He is a lazy work horse so I was not really sure what to expect on this his local debut. I was impressed with him and I would guess he will be a Dubai Duty Free contender.”