05/04/2014 10:26AM

Variety Club first non-Hong Kong-based Champions Mile winner


Variety Club, bred in South Africa and campaigned there before racing this winter and spring in Dubai, romped Sunday at Sha Tin in the Group 1 Champions Mile, the first horse not based in Hong Kong to win the race in its 14-year history.

With South African jockey Anton Marcus up, Variety Club broke well from post 12, a difficult outside draw in the one-turn, right-handed mile, and alternated on a moderate early and middle pace with huge longshot Helene Spirit. Variety Club led narrowly straightening for home, but with Marcus steering out to find the best part of the course, Variety Club blew the race open with a little less than 300 meters left, running out to a four-length victory over favored Able Friend. Another two lengths back came the 2013 Champions Mile winner Dan Excel.

Variety Club, a 5-year-old South African champion by Var, won 2 of 3 starts at Meydan in Dubai, including the Group 1 Godolphin Mile on the March 30 World Cup card, but Variety Club might have been even better switching from the Meydan all-weather track back to turf at Sha Tin. Transferred from trainer Joey Ramsden to Mike de Kock for Sunday’s race, Variety Club was totally dominant, and his connections mentioned the Breeders’ Cup Mile as a possible late-season goal, with the Prix de la Foret on the Arc card as a potential prep.