As the big day approaches, we collected a final round up of stable comments for the 2018 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate contenders.
Legal Eagle – Sean Tarry
Legal Eagle (Greys Inn – Young Sensation), dual Horse Of The Year and L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate defending champion and will be attempting his third consecutive victory this Saturday. Our champion trainer confirmed that his charge is doing “very well”.
Despite the Mayfair furore, he says, “In people’s minds there might be a lot of drama, but in Legal Eagle’s mind, there’s no drama and nothing has changed. We’ve had no hiccups and everything has gone as it should have.”
In terms of the change ownership, Sean notes that Braam van Huyssteen is a very passionate owner and unfortunate circumstances aside, is very excited to have been presented with an opportunity to purchase a horse of Legal Eagle’s calibre and is looking forward to Saturday.
Is the possibility of a treble adding any additional pressure? “I haven’t really given it much thought,” he admits. “Two was a big ask and I feel that he’s as good as ever, he’s got a draw and we’re meeting more or less the same opposition, so if all goes smoothly I expect him to do it. However,” he cautions, “one always has to remember that you’re dealing with flesh and blood. There are things that can go wrong in the race, but barring that, I am expecting him to go well. Let’s hope.”
Legal Eagle is drawn 2, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Anton Marcus.
Captain America – Brett Crawford
Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge winner Captain America (Captain Al – Requista) has his third attempt at the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, having previously finished 4th and 3rd to Legal Eagle in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Brett Crawford comments, “He has done very well since his last start (when he finished 1 length third to Legal Eagle in the Green Point Stakes). I think he looks better, his work has been very good and I’m very happy with him at the moment. He’s a very honest horse and always gives his best.”
Captain America is drawn 9, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Corne Orffer.
Marinaresco – Candice Robinson
2017 July hero Marinaresco (Silvano – Gay Fortuna) is having his second attempt at the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate after a 4th placed finish behind Legal Eagle in 2017. Following his July win, he finished 8.75 lengths off Sail South in the Gr1 Champions Cup and then stepped out in the Cape Merchants in early December, finishing 5.75 lengths off Silicone Valley.
Candice Robinson comments, “He’s fit and well, but it’s a tough race. It’s level weights and the mile is a little short for him. He hasn’t beaten Legal Eagle yet over a mile and the Met is his main mission for the season. We have tried a different route this year and given him one sprint to try and keep him as fresh as possible for the mile. He’s fresh, he’s well, he looks great and we expect him to run well, but it’s not easy on these big days.”
Marinaresco is drawn 4, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Aldo Domeyer.
Sail South – Brett Crawford
Gr1 Champions Cup winner Sail South (Sail From Seattle – Southern Pride) is having his second attempt at the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate after finishing 3rd to Legal Eagle (and behind stable mate Captain America) in 2017.
Brett comments, “He’s in good form at the moment. To me, he’s working a lot better than he was going into the Green Point Stakes. Obviously it’s a tough task at the weights to beat those two other horses, but he loves Kenilworth, he put up a great run in this race last year and I see no reason why he won’t do it again. The Potts bred him, so it’s obviously very special for them and Gill Dempsey became a partner, so she has been involved since day 1. He’s another honest horse – what you see is what you get. You can expect him to be running on at the business end and I’m sure he will produce a good run.”
Sail South is drawn 8, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Greg Cheyne.
Hat Puntano – Mike & Adam Azzie
Argentinian import Hat Puntano (Hat Trick – Stormy Pursuer) has had three starts since arriving in South Africa, including the Gr2 Charity Mile in November and finishing 0.5 lengths off Romany Prince in Pinnacle Plate in mid-December, conceding weight all round. He arrived in Cape Town by road on Wednesday, 3 January 2018, after plans to fly him down were scuppered by flight schedules.
Mike Azzie, who was on hand to ensure that his charge arrived safely, confirmed that Hat Puntano has taken the journey well. “He ate his feed, had three buckets of water on the float and even lay down and had a good sleep. He’s travelled all over the world, so he knows travelling and has taken it in his stride.”
“His work has been phenomenal, so we will just be taking things easy for the next few days and keep him ticking over until Saturday,” he comments.
Mike is famous for the emotional investment he pours into every horse and admits that does put a lot of pressure on himself. “My family are always telling me not to sweat the small stuff, but in racing there is no small stuff!” he quips. “Obviously Gaynor is a very special client to me, so I do set high standards because I want to do well for her.”
“He’s looking magnificent, but it’s now all in the hands of the gods – if it’s meant to be, it will be.”
Hat Puntano is drawn 10, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Grant van Niekerk.
Deo Juvente – Geoff Woodruff
2017 Gr1 Premier’s Champions Challenge winner, Deo Juvente (Trippi – Circle Of Life) made his Cape Town summer season debut – as well as his debut for his new owners – in the Gr2 Forus Premier Trophy on 16 December. Unfortunately he was not himself on the day and finished 18 lengths last.
Geoff Woodruff commented, “We were all appalled at his first run in Cape Town, but he’s done this to us before and then comes back and runs a good one. But he’s enjoying Cape Town, he’s looking great and he’s nice and sound.” Referring to his daughter and assistant trainer, he says, “Lu handles things with aplomb. His new owners are very excited to have a runner in the Queen’s Plate – everybody is. He’s such a nice horse to be involved in and it’s a nice bunch of people and we hope he’ll do us all proud.”
Deo Juvente is drawn 7, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Callan Murray.
Gold Standard – Glen Kotzen
As a 3yo, Gold Standard (Trippi – Olympic Dam) followed his win in the 2016 Gr2 Selangor Cup, with a 0.5 length second to William Longsword in the Cape Guineas and a 2,8 length 4th to Whisky Baron in the 2017 Gr1 Sun Met. After resting for the remainder of his 3yo season, Gold Standard made his 4yo debut in an eventful running of the Gr3 Matchem Stakes, before finishing 2.5 lengths off Legal Eagle in the Green Point Stakes in December 2017. He now has his first attempt at the Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Glen Kotzen commented, “Gold Standard has had a great prep going into the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. This will be his third after a break. In his first run, he was nearly put over the fence and then ran in the Green Point Stakes where he finished 4th to Legal Eagle beaten 2.50 lengths. Richard Fourie reported that the big boy took forever to get into stride – typical second run after a break.” But with that behind them, the team is focused on Saturday.
“He put up a good gallop just after Christmas and couldn’t blow out a candle. I think the pace will be on and with the great weather predicted for Saturday, we should see a true run race. To win the L’Ormarins Queen’s plate with a son of Trippi would be fantastic for his owners who have high hopes for his stud career.”
Gold Standard is drawn 11, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Richard Fourie.
Silicone Valley – Glen Puller
‘Million dollar man’ Glen Puller saddles recent Cape Merchants winner, Silicone Valley (Jay Peg – Prize Collection), who has his second attempt at the L’Omarins Queen’s Plate. The team took Silicone Valley for a quick outing to Melkbos beach on Wednesday, 03 January 2018 as a pre-race day treat and reported that their charge is doing very well. Piet Botha, who has done most of the prep work, said, “Everything going into the race has gone well. We’re very happy and believe he will give his best performance.” Although Piet rides most of Silicone’s work, Donovan Dillion swung a leg over on Monday and was also very happy with the way he felt.”
Silicone Valley is drawn 1, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Donovan Dillon.
African Night Sky – Justin Snaith
African Night Sky (Dynasty – Starzene) captured the imagination when he followed in the footsteps of the mighty Pocket Power by becoming only the second horse to win the Cape Winter Series. He will look to stay on the same path when he attempts this weekend’s Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Jono Snaith said, “A mile is a little short of his best distance and it’s going to be really tough to beat Legal Eagle, but we do feel he is absolutely spot on. He has had a really good prep and we have him in a really good place at the moment. We’re coming off a really good showing in the grass gallop on 16 December and it’s the one prep that’s gone absolutely perfectly. There hasn’t been a single hiccup. He’s coming in a fit, sound horse and we are confident he will run a really good race.”
African Night Sky is drawn 5, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Bernard Fayd’herbe.
Copper Force – Justin Snaith
Jono reports that Listed Daisy Business Solutions Handicap winner Copper Force (Royal Air Force – Eastern Copper) is a good horse on his day.
“For all the punters who might be tempted to disregard him on his Green Point Stakes run, you can put a line through that. He never raised a gallop, but pulled up footsore, so there was a reason he ran poorly. We’ve got him sorted out and he will run to his earlier form.”
Copper Force is drawn 12, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Lyle Hewitson.
Fifty Cents – Justin Snaith
The 5yo Fifty Cents (Trippi – Prestine Performer) comes off back to back wins. Jono admits that the 2016 Listed Jet Master Stakes winner had a shocking Durban season.
“He’s turned the corner massively. He’s maybe not good enough to win, but he didn’t disgrace himself last year and we think he’ll run a better race this year – he’s got a coming on look about him. His last two runs were good and we think he’s earned his place in the field. He won’t be disgraced.”
Fifty Cents is drawn 3, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Piere Strydom.
It Is Written – Justin Snaith
The 7yo It Is Written (Dynasty – Good Rapport) seems something of an optimistic entry. “Fred Crabbia thought it would be lovely to have a PE horse in the Queen’s Plate to add a bit of interest. On paper, he’s probably the least likely to come out the winner, but races aren’t run on paper and we’ve seen stranger things happen. He’s a relaxed, easy horse to work with and is very sound, which is why he’s still racing so late in his career. He’s having a bit of a holiday in Cape Town and running in the Queen’s Plate as a bit of fun. The stable is doing really well at the moment and our horses are all running consistently – we just hope they carry it through to Saturday.”
It Is Written is drawn 6, carries 60kgs and will be ridden by Brandon May.