The R400 000 Gr2 Sceptre Stakes headlines the opening day of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival Of Racing today and Joey Ramsden’s 2016 Cape Fillies Guineas victress Just Sensual looks the one to beat.
The Sceptre Stakes is run at weight-for-age plus penalties of 2kgs for a Gr1 win and a kilo for a Gr2 success.
Southern Cross Stakes late finisher Just Sensual carried a 2kg Gr1 penalty last time when her class got her home over the 1000m. Ramsden keeps the blinkers on and she will be even more effective over the 1200m on Friday. Anton Marcus is bang in form and knows her well.
Hoist The Mast was narrowly beaten in the Southern Cross by Just Sensual and almost caused the upset of the year off her modest 78 merit rating. She now runs off an 83 and her style of racing looks to be suited to a late burst over the extra 200m.
The 2017 Sceptre Stakes winner Live Life bounced back to form with a strong finish in the Southern Cross Stakes to be beaten just 0,8 lengths into third, with the benefit of a new bit fitted.
Her younger stablemate Magical Wonderland should enjoy the reversion to the sprints after two fair efforts in the Western Cape Fillies Championship and the Cape Fillies Guineas. She can well bounce back here.
Dennis Drier’s smart Var flyer Sommerlied failed to reproduce her Listed Laisserfaire Stakes win when finishing just under two lengths behind Just Sensual last time. Sommerlied’s worst ever run was over 1200m and she is best watched for now – although she is the Scottsville 1000m record holder and loaded with talent.
SA Fillies Nursery winner Green Plains has her third run after a layoff and was cramped and fell away to nothing in the Southern Cross Stakes. She looks much better than that and is worth another chance.
The speedy Jo’s Bond showed that she is very effective over the 1200m when a commendable fouth fourth in the Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint last season and she needed it when just off the placed runners in the Southern Cross. The daughter of Captain Al is top-class.
Mike de Kock’s Shufoog showed terrific speed in the Need For Speed Sprint and even though well beaten in the Southern Cross Stakes can improve further.
Just Sensual is a confident choice to maintain her good form and she can win again. There is likely to be a scramble for the places with Live Life, Magical Wonderland and Green Plains the main players.