Mornington trainer Tony Noonan and connections are confident that their decision to bypass the $1 million Stradbroke Handicap showdown a fortnight ago with in-form mare Varenna Miss will be the key for her to secure an elite level win at Eagle Farm this Saturday.
Redoute’s Choice four-year-old Varenna Miss bounced back from her disappointing ninth in Morphettville’s Group 1 Sportingbet Classic in March with a tidy win in a 1200m handicap at Doomben on May 21.
The class of that race was not high, however, so when she lined up against stars including subsequent Stradbroke winner Sincero (11th) in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on June 4 she was a double-figure outsider in the markets.
Varenna Miss and jockey Dwayne Dunn, however, showed her rivals exactly what she was made of with an upset victory in the feature.
“She won that race well from a wide barrier (15 of 16),” Noonan’s stable foreman Mick Robins, who is overseeing Varenna Miss’s winter campaign for a holidaying Noonan, said.
“The horse that won the Stradbroke ran 11th. It’s a pretty strong formline.”
Storming into favouritism for the Stradbroke after her QTC Cup success, Noonan opted not to run Varenna Miss in Queensland’s richest sprint, saving her instead for this Saturday’ $500,000 Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) against her own company.
Not known for her ability to back up quickly from her races, Varenna Miss is now fresh and fit and ready to take on the likes of Doomben 10,000 winner Beaded in the race formerly known as the Winter Stakes on Saturday, which will see the end of Group 1 racing for another season.
“The thing going for us is she didn’t run in the Stradbroke and she’s going in as the fresh horse,” Robins said with confidence.
“If she was going to stud, the owner (Glen Frazer) and Tony probably would have run her (in the Stradbroke), but I think she will be a better mare next prep.
“She’s only had 10 races.”
Varenna Miss has actually only had nine races to date, the Tattersall’s Tiara to give her double-digit jumps, and already she boasts an excellent record of five wins and two minor placings.
Despite the tidy record, Varenna Miss faces a tough task on Saturday, Robins well aware of the danger Peter Snowden’s star mare and multiple Group 1 performer Beaded presents in the weight-for-age classic.
Beaded has defeated Varenna Miss twice before, both times with ease.
Varenna Miss finished a length and a half second to the Lonhro five-year-old in the Group 3 Race Club Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield in February, and later in the Sportingbet Classic Beaded finished just a half-length away second to winner Response while Varenna Miss was more distant ninth.
“The fact it’s weight-for-age makes it tough,” Robins said of the Tatt’s Tiara.
“Beaded beat her pretty easily when they met at Caulfield.
“Beaded is such a good little mare that she will probably back up (from the Stradbroke).
“Good horses like her just keep racing well but going in fresh suits Varenna Miss.
“Brooke Schreuder rides her in all of her work and can’t fault her since the QTC Cup.”
Beaded and Varenna Miss will both carry 57kg in the Tattersall’s Tiara on Saturday, acceptances for the female-only feature to be taken on Wednesday.