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Avontuur’s Eagle Soars To Dizzy Heights

Over R7 million in stakes and a second L'Ormarins Queen's Plate title!

SA Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle showed once again that he has no peers over a mile when achieving the rare feat of back-to-back L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate victories with a sensational run at Kenilworth on Saturday.

Anton Marcus drives Legal Eagle to an easy L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate win (Pic – Wayne Marks)

The champion 5yo had been given a fright by the year younger Marinaresco in the Gr2 Green Point Stakes five weeks ago.

But the anticipated rematch, or boat race as it is popularly dubbed, failed to materialise on Saturday, as the smashing Avontuur Stud-bred gelding made the prestige mile all his own and owned the beautiful day.

In a fine feat of training , SA champion conditioner Sean Tarry had been proven spot-on with his assessment that he still ‘had something to work on’ after the apparently ‘running on empty’ Green Point success.

That despite conceding at the same instance that trainers ‘sometimes bluff themselves’!

24 years after his opening L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate victory on Empress Club, Anton Marcus made it six personal wins in the prestigious weight-for-age mile.

He also celebrated a superb Gr1 double and rode four winners on the blue and white afternoon, enjoying something of an armchair ride on the champion, who hit the front full of running at the 400m, to win going away.

In his typically self-effacing sporting fashion, Marcus said that he had every respect for his ten opponents as the race was a Gr1, and made special mention of the horse expected to be his arch-rival, Marinaresco, who he suggested was ‘a very good horse’.

They are likely to meet again in the Met.

“There is elation but there is expectation too. I had no rear-view mirror and didn’t know how far they were behind me,” he said with a broad smile.

Royal triumph – from l to r, trainer Sean Tarry, Derek Brugman, Pippa Mickleburgh and Michael Jooste lead Legal Eagle and Anton Marcus in after the big win (Pic – Racing. It’s A Rush)

After losing a shoe and being attended to by the farrier at the start, Midnite Zone (also in the Mayfair Speculators silks) cut out a decent pace, with Legal Eagle always within earshot.

With his mount full of running, Marcus could wait no longer at the 400m, and he gave the Greys Inn gelding his head to roars of applause.

Only looking ahead, Marcus steered Legal Eagle to victory as he stormed home for the royal double. He won at odds of 13-20, recording an unpressured winning margin of 2,25 lengths in a time of 97,73 secs.

Gr1 winner Captain America was also always thereabouts and ran a much better race off a less frenetic pace than he faced in the Green Point Stakes.

He held on for second, 0,75 lengths ahead of his stablemate Sail South, who was given an interesting change of tactics today by Richard Fourie. The son of Sail From Seattle stormed home late to run a cracker.

Have you read the Sporting Post Digest? Maybe you should be!

The 2-1 second favourite Marinaresco had only Sail South behind him turning for home and, while he quickened, he hesitated momentarily and had no chance with the top three and finished what was a disappointing fourth, 3,30 lengths behind the Eagle.

Royal moment to remember – Mayfair Speculators Racing Manager Derek Brugman, Michael Jooste and HRH Princess Eugenie (Pic – Racing. It’s A Rush)

Piere Strydom enjoyed a rare quiet afternoon with July winner The Conglomerate running a fair Sun Met prep from his wide draw to finish 5,60 lengths back in seventh.

Gr1 winner and stablemate to the winner, French Navy, failed to fire and finished just 0,40 lengths behind The Conglomerate. He may be a different horse over the 2000m in the Met.

The 2016 SA Triple Crown champion Abashiri also ran a disappointing race, finishing stone last and 12,40 lengths off the winner.

The beleaguered son of Go Deputy has a mountain to climb before the Sun Met in under three weeks – that’s if he runs.

HRH Princess Eugenie of York and British High Commissioner Dame Judith Mcgregor added a glamorous touch to the post-race presentation after the winner was led in by a host of connections, that included Michael Jooste and elated breeder Pippa Mickleburgh, who celebrated a triumphant festival with a Gr2 success for Avontuur on Friday.

The top-class consistent Legal Eagle has won 9 races (5 Gr1’s) from his 15 starts with 4 places for stakes of R7 022 875.

A son of Vodacom Durban July winner Greys Inn, he is out of the six-time winning National Emblem mare Young Sensation, who was also trained by Sean Tarry.

While there is some way to go yet, the champion miler ( cleverly labelled ‘quite underrated’ by the astute and outspoken Joey Ramsden) must have claims to another Horse Of The Year title!

He was bought by Sean Tarry on behalf of top owner Markus Jooste for R425 000 at the 2013 BSA National Yearling Sale.

Now for the Sun Met – and bring on the cynics and the naysayers again.

This great horse has no stamina limitations and will be a major player on 28 January at the same venue.


Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate  (SAf-Gr1)

Kenilworth, South Africa, January 7, R1.5 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.37.73

1 – LEGAL EAGLE (SAF), 60.0, b g 5, Greys Inn (USA) – Young Sensation (SAF) by National Emblem (SAF). Owner Mayfair Speculators (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Mr D L Brugman); Breeder Avontuur Farm; trainer SG Tarry; jockey A Marcus
2 – Captain America (SAF), 60.0, b g 6, Captain Al (SAF) – Requista (SAF) by Fort Wood (USA)
3 – Sail South (SAF), 60.0, b g 6, Sail From Seattle (USA) – Southern Pride (SAF) by Northfields (USA)
Margins: 2.25, 0.75, 0.30

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21 comments on “Avontuur’s Eagle Soars To Dizzy Heights”

  1. Well done to the winner and his connections. A deserved victory. I thought the ride by Grant Van Niekerk on Marineresco was amateurish. How any Jockey could think that in a Grade 1 race at Kenilworth he could make up about 10 lengths on the leaders over a 1600m race with about 600m to go is beyond me. Anton Marcus is a good jockey. The way the other jockeys ride makes him look like a superstar! If I was the owner of Marineresco I would seriously be considering the use of another jockey.

  2. I am talking about Marinaresco which opened at 16/10 and not Sail South that closed at 66/1. Sail south ran 7.9 lengths behind Eagle Eagle on 3 December 2016 while Marinaresco ran 0.4 lengths behind. Captain America ran 4.6 lengths behind Eagle Eagle on that date. Virtually every horse except for Marinaresco franked their previous form behind Legal Eagle.

    So what if Sail South came from behind Marinareco with 600m to go. Richard Fourie rode like a demon yesterday. Well done to him. My comment only relates to the ride of Marinaresco. There was a relatively strong headwind and making up the ground in the straight without sufficient cover was a mistake. At least Fourie worked with the cover on Sail South in the final straight and that cover was Marinaresco.

    Because you, Karel own Sporting Post does not translate your assessment into being right all the time. What are your comments when it comes to Cape Jockeys and Grant Van Niekerk having enjoyed the most fines and suspensions than any other Cape Jockey in the past 6 months for causing unnecessary interference. Try translate that into good riding. I can read a race as much as you can. Even if my comment is amateurish, at least I know that it did not cost many punters their hard earned money.Grant Van Niekerk could have placed Marinaresco in a more handy position for the first 1000m. He did not. He did not find cover despite the headwind. I backed Legal Eagle. If Marinaresco will have any chance in the Metropolitan Stakes, I believe an imported jockey from Gauteng may do the job.

    1. So we have a difference of opinion. It happens.
      You take the result of the Green Point Stakes as reliable.
      I didn’t after analyzing the way the race was run, and explained why, then going on record publicly (on our website) saying that the way to play the Queen’s Plate was to go for swingers with Captain America and Sail South, and to brass Marinaresco.
      That came true.
      Was I wrong? Who decides?
      Your opinion against mine.
      Maybe the Met will make things more visible, one way or another.
      My view is that Marinaresco isn’t as good as he’s generally considered to be.
      But let’s remain civil about things and not so readily put blame for for things that maybe didn’t happen.

  3. Poor old Abashiri, it’s sad to see him come in last.

    That horse has been marked and/or scarred for life.

    Karel, for me, the fact that Sail South came from behind of Marinaresco to ran third, is quite separate from G v Niekerk’s lack of tactical awareness.

    In my book, it is a poor ride.

    All the best

    William Milkovitch

    1. Abashiri has not shaped very well since venturing away from his home grounds of Turfontein where he beat the same moderate opposition repeatedly to gain the dubious honour of triple crown winner.

  4. There was also a horse that took up marinaeresco’s running at a crucial stage…not that it would have made any difference to the winner. Well done to team Marcus and Brugman working out the pace thereby ensuring that the Eagle had too much in hand for any real challenge!Professionalism personified! Marinaeresco’s ride, well less said the better after not learning from their previous encounter. For him not to have run in the 1st three amplifies how poor the ride was.

  5. In fairness to Van Niekerk I think the mile was too sharp for his mount and he is probably prepping for the Met. (but I think Legal Eagle will beat him again)

    1. On the subject of BRAIN TEASER, the jockey you have in mind got beaten in a match race on Brain Teaser by Divine Act. Is it not strange that everybody conveniently forgets who the jockey was to win on Divine Act, I think it was Charlie van Booma, what a masterful and tactical ride!!!

    2. In answer to the brain teaser. Former jockey David Byrnes has ridden over 5000 winners. I believe this feat was done long before Jockey Strydom. Please anybody with reliable knowledge, confirm. Maybe the Editer can do a profile and ask David first hand. How about that then.

      1. David Byrnes? where did he ride these 5000 winners? in South Africa or abroad? I can’t remember him as being very successful, but I will wait for someone in the know to prove me wrong. Sporting Post should have access to such info.

  6. I think the right thing to do is forgive Mr. Miedema and give him another chance particularly because it’s the season of goodwill.

    He has responded and at least he didn’t hide behind an “alias”.

    I’ll write to the Editor and request him not to block any of Mr K’s future posts and /or opinions.

    Ag shame man, it’s only fair, and…I feel better already.

    Happy days

    William Milkovitch

  7. Marsh and I agreed before the race, the race was against Anton’s brain.
    He is a genius off a strong pace and it was a show of a master plan.
    Marinaresco had his stride taken up with the Puller runner not staying and ducking in and out.
    Like Jackson who could never crack a draw v Variety Club, you can’t give ground to a specialist miler and go wide for a run at Kenilworth.
    Brassing him on one run in a group one after nothing went right for him is just not realistic.

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