Adam Marcus, son of former jockey Basil and nephew of four-time champion Anton Marcus, came of age as a trainer when Vardy scored an emphatic win in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and will now be one of the favourites for the Sun Met on February 1.
The ten runners were delayed at the start for 20 minutes with both Twist Of Fate and Pack Leader having to have a shoe refitted, Do It Again’s bridle breaking and odds-on favourite Hawwaam’s bridle slipping and having to be refitted. There were also concerns about the thick smoke from an unplanned grass fire blowing across the course.
The delay was the last thing Mike de Kock’s latest star wanted. His temperament has always been his Achilles heel and, when the start did eventually take place, he over-raced and had little left when things began in earnest. He managed only fifth, with Anton Marcus reporting: “He is lengths better than that.”
Vardy (17-2) came with a strong run to lead a furlong out and draw clear to beat 16-1 shot One World by a length and a quarter, with last year’s Met winner Rainbow Bridge a short head further back.
The winner, as he had done a number of times in the past, drifted left as he challenged but Craig Zackey kept him clear of the runner-up.
This was the biggest win in the eight-year career of Adam Marcus, who was educated in England (at Cheam and The Oratory) while his father was riding for Clive Brittain.
He said: “Winning a race like the Queen’s Plate is a dream come true for someone who grew up in racing but, when I started training, it seemed impossible to get there.”
Vardy had better luck than his famous footballing namesake, whose Leicester City side were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Southampton on Saturday. Vardy, the horse, is a son of Var - and Leicester had a goal ruled out by VAR in the closing minutes.
De Kock, meanwhile, also had better luck on the day, with Queen Supreme – bred in County Waterford by Tom Hassett – leading a furlong out under Callan Murray in the Grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes to win by a most convincing two and a half lengths from Cape Fillies Guineas runner-up Driving Miss Daisy.
This was the fifth Paddock Stakes success for De Kock but his first since 2010. It hasn’t always been a lucky race for him either – between 2002 and 2011 he had six beaten favourites!
He said: “It’s fantastic shopping in the northern hemisphere [Queen Supreme was bought at Goffs] but you have to have an owner with lots of patience and I was in two minds about running her because she had a tough race in the Summer Cup. I threw her into a paddock for ten days and then she started working like a ten-furlong horse.”
The Exceed And Excel filly wore a nose patch and, asked whether it makes any difference, De Kock answered: “I don’t know but mine all wear them – and I don’t want to take them off!”