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Ramsden Bids to Extend South African World Cup-day Presence With Godolphin Mile Challenge

Star Galloper Variety Club Takes on De Kock’s Soft Falling Rain

JOEY RAMSDEN is hoping that some of the gold dust from South Africa that fellow trainer Mike de Kock has scattered over the Dubai World Cup meeting in recent years falls on his first runner at the glittering occasion on Saturday – a horse who has been ‘lodging’ at de Kock’s Blue Stables barn near Meydan racecourse.

Variety Club (SAF), whom Ramsden has trained to claim Horse of the Year honours in South Africa for the last two years, joined De Kock’s stable and has been handled by his staff for this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival, culminating in his challenge for Saturday’s Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Meydan Sobha.

However, Ramsden, who has made regular visits to Dubai, remains his nominated trainer and can now add a success in the UAE to his CV, after Variety Club extended his winning run to eight in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, sponsored by Ford Explorer Sport, in the middle of February.

The six-year-old son of leading stallion Var was subsequently beaten a length-and-three-quarters into second place behind Shuruq in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, sponsored by Emirates Holidays, but Ramsden, while disappointed, was not downhearted.

“Things didn’t go his way that night,” he says. “He’s not easy to load in the stalls and we asked for him to be a late loader, but it didn’t happen and he got a little worked up. Maybe was entitled to a flat run after eight months away from home.”

As well as having to overcome a degree of uncertainty at the starting point, Variety Club faces the possible disadvantage of racing from stall 15, one from the outside.

Ramsden is philosophical, saying: “There’s nothing we can do about the draw. Those are the cards we’ve been dealt, and I’ll leave it in the hands of his regular jockey Anton Marcus. I wouldn’t dream of interfering on that score.

“He can ping out of the stalls or be dropped in. He can do either, and it will be up to Anton to decide.”

At the finishing end of the race, however, Ramsden is hoping he can follow de Kock’s example.

“Just getting Variety Club from South Africa to Dubai was marvellous,” he says. “Winning would be a wonderful achievement for everyone concerned.”