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Masked Crusader impressive despite defeat

A race-fit Varda has lowered the colours of Masked Crusader but the exciting sprinter lost no admirers with his closing second on a heavy Randwick track.

Stepping out for the first time since May, the Hawkes Racing four-year-old was sent out an odds-on favourite and could not match Varda’s turn of foot when she sprinted quickly at the top of the straight.

But he made good late headway, running Varda to a long neck in a return that impressed jockey Tommy Berry.

“The winner sprinted too well for me at the top of the straight,” Berry said.

“My bloke took another 100 metres or so to get comfortable in the ground. He was actually quite good in the ground.

“His last furlong sectional would be amazing.”

Varda maintained her unbeaten record this campaign with her victory in Saturday’s Schweppes Handicap (1100m).

Trainer James Cummings is unsure if the progressive mare will continue into the spring but he is certain she has a bright future.

“She’s a quick mare and she has done such a good job for us,” Cummings said.

“She has had four testing runs on wet tracks, lesser horses it might have taken a bit more out of them.

“We haven’t made any firm decision. We just had a sense this might be the last run of her prep. Some of the races will just come up a bit quick like the Toy Show.

“She is a next-prep horse I think and a wet autumn certainly won’t hold her back.”

Varda and Masked Crusader cleared out from the rest of the field with Royal Tudor closest of the chasers another 4-1/2 lengths away.

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