Legal Eagle bids for a third straight Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate success on Saturday and, bar the pressure of the public expectation and money riding on his athletic back, the son of Greys Inn could face his softest test to date in Africa’s premier weigh-for-age mile.
A champion miler in every respect with seven wins from seven starts over 1600m, Legal Eagle comes into Saturday’s contest with every block ticked and it is easier finding something to run second than to beat him.
Captain America ran second beaten 2,25 lengths last year and while he won the Gr1 Gold Challenge last term, he is a 7yo and was well beaten by Legal Eagle in the Green Point Stakes.
Sail South ran a 3 length third last year and is another who looks well held. The top class son of Sail From Seattle – like his stablemate Captain America a 7yo – also picked up a big win last term, courtesy of the Gr1 Champion Stakes in KZN but was well beaten in the Green Point Stakes.
Marinaresco ran fourth and 3,30 lengths back last year. The son of Silvano won the July under a big weight and is high-class. But was well beaten in the Champion Stakes and his Merchants prep – his only outing this season – told us less than little. He has plenty of ability but has been a tough horse to stay loyal to. He could surprise!
Lightly raced Cape Merchants winner Silicone Valley ran a 4,55 length fifth behind Legal Eagle in this race last year. The 7yo son of Jay Peg is as honest as the day is long and jumps from the pole position draw. He strips fit and will be running at them late.
Mike Azzie brings the Charity Mile and international Gr1 winner Hat Puntano to the Mother City for his fourth start in South Africa. There is nominal comparison between the opposition he encountered with his Turffontein Gr2 success and what the son of Hat Trick meets here.
Trainer Glen Kotzen’s 2016 Selangor Cup winner Gold Standard has been brought along slowly with two respectable fourth placed feature efforts this season.
Cape Winter Series champion African Night Sky has had just one start this season – a 1,75 length fifth placed finish in receipt of 1,5kgs behind Edict Of Nantes over a too short 1400m.
The 2016 Listed Jet Master Stakes winner Fifty Cents gets the services of Piere Strydom and jumps from a nice draw. While he is in prime form – having won his last two handicap starts in convincing fashion – Fifty Cents looks to have plenty to do.
Last of the Justin Snaith quartet is the Dynasty 7yo It Is Written, who has been campaigning with limited success in the Eastern Cape.
It is difficult to look past Legal Eagle and if he turns up his usual industrious self he will be difficult to peg back. He can run off any kind of pace and is versatility personified.
Gold Standard has not found his best stride yet this season and it would be foolish to overlook the boom expectations of him as a 3yo. Sail South and Captain America are always thereabouts, while the still improving African Night Sky should be snapping at their heels.