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Anton’s Wild Ride

Two-time South African Horse of the Year Variety Club is due to start from gate 15 in Saturday’s $1,000,000 Godolphin Mile (G2) at Meydan.  With that performance comes the Dubai World Cup meeting-return of jockey Anton Marcus, a somewhat willing participant in a mid-stretch escapade from the 2008 Dubai Duty Free that could only be termed the “Marcus Miracle.”

Fast forward to 2:38 of this video to see the race in its entirety.

“I could feel it starting to go around 250 metres out,” jockey Anton Marcus recalled on Tuesday in Dubai. The saddle slipped, unbalancing Marcus a furlong from the finish in a $5 million race.

Leading from the start, cutting across from gate 14 in a field of 16, Jay Peg made the pace and all the running. “I really had to battle him to corner, and I think that was what did it, although I’ve gone over it my mind trying to figure out how it happened – that’s all I could come up with.”

With 15 rivals bearing down on his mount, Jay Peg responded, while drifting out, as Marcus lost some control.

“Never in my 30 years has something quite like that happened, and certainly not in a race that rich. I’ve had my saddle slip, but not like this, maybe in a maiden perhaps.”

Marcus, based in Durban, South Africa, has been riding since he left Cape Town, South Africa at the age of 13. His first mount came aboard Vertus for trainer Tony Furness at Scottsville when he was 15. “He ran off with me going down to the start. We ran stone last.” It would not be the wildest ride of his career.

“I don’t know how I stayed on, really.” With his left leg down the side of Jay Peg and his right leg flying high, Marcus nearly came out of the irons just yards past the winning post, incapable of a celebratory gesture.  “I’m not a very religion person,” Marcus said of staying-on, “but it was divine intervention.”

Forget for a moment that Marcus has tens of thousands of rides. “I can recall it happening a few times in my career, mostly in maidens.”

The miracle man is back in Dubai. A winner on Variety Club in his UAE debut, Marcus aims for World Cup glory yet again with a run in the Godolphin Mile. Variety Club is likely to be one of the favorites, whereas Jay Peg was a rank outsider. The one constant is that Marcus will give it his all, and hope there is no slippage when the big money is on the line. Then again, the result was sublime in 2008.

Marcus, below on Tuesday, with Variety Club.

Anton Marcus and Variety Club

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