Tony Noonan’s classy mare Varenna Miss may have skipped the Stradbroke and its associated QTC Cup winners’ hoodoo, but on Saturday she faces a similar battle against the stats for her start in the Tattersall’s Tiara.
Redoute’s Choice four-year-old Varenna Miss claimed a massive upset when she stormed home to defeat the likes of fellow Tatt’s Tiara hopeful Zingaling (third) and subsequent Stradbroke winner Sincero (11th) in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on June 4.
Despite firming into the clear favourite to back up and become the first QTC Cup winner in history to win the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), Varenna Miss was not accepted for Queensland’s richest sprint.
Noonan and connections chose instead to focus solely on this Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm where Varenna Miss will face a quality field of fellow fillies and mares.
Not having raced since her QTC Cup success, Varenna Miss has had a far less testing preparation than odds-on Tatt’s Tiara favourite Beaded ($2) and as such is the $6 second elect in the markets.
With the Stradbroke hoodoo avoided, however, Varenna Miss now has a new historical drought to overcome.
It has been 12 years since a last-start winner took out the Tattersall’s Tiara, previously known as the Winter Stakes.
Varenna Miss, then, is not the only runner out to break the drought with three other last-start winners engaged for the race in Hurtle Myrtle (G.2 Dane Ripper Stakes, Eagle Farm, June 4), Steps In Time (Listed Daybreak Lover Stakes, Eagle Farm, June 4) and Born To Rock (Listed Gai Waterhouse Classic, Ipswich, June 18).
The most recent Winter Stakes winner to have backed up from a last-start victory was Razor Blade when the event held only Group 3 status back in 1998.
Although history says no to Varenna Miss, the man in charge of her Winter Carnival preparation in place of a holidaying Noonan, Mick Robins says she has the form and fitness to defy the odds with an upset Tatt’s Tiara win tomorrow.
“She’s done everything right and I couldn’t wish for her to be any better,” he said.
“She’s done extra well, you couldn’t wish her to be any better.
“You couldn’t be any happier with the condition of the horse.”
“She probably has to, but I reckon she’s improved a bit after her win in the QTC Cup.”
Jockey Dwayne Dunn, aboard for the QTC Cup success, will again partner with Varenna Miss tomorrow and despite her less-than-ideal barrier 13 draw there is an air of confidence in her camp.
“She drew 18 and came into 15 the other day (for the QTC Cup win) and she’s a big-striding mare, so I think she’s better off out from the fence,” Robins said.
Still, Robins is also well aware of the quality of the Peter Snowden-trained Beaded and the danger she presents.
“We, probably like everybody else, are just hoping that the racing’s taken a bit out of Beaded,” he said.
“If it was a handicap, we’d probably be getting a fair bit of weight from her, but being weight-for-age, we meet her at level weights.
“Whatever way you look at the race Beaded has to be the one to beat.
“She’s a freak the way she can put in every time.
“I’m just hoping maybe the Stradbroke has taken a little out of her.
“It might be wishful thinking looking at her record.”