The Braam van Huyssteen money will go on in earnest – no matter how short the price – when Legal Eagle attempts to win the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate for the third successive year at Kenilworth on Saturday, writes Michael Clower.
Never mind the old adage that you shouldn’t buy money by betting at odds-on, the superstar’s new owner believes it would be an act of craven disloyalty not to support him with hard cash and plenty of it. “Absolutely,” he insisted. “I have to back my horse. I know my mate Billy will back him and I have to as well.”
My mate Billy is the Brisbane-based William Henderson whose advice the Bentley-driving Tekkie Town boss sought when he realised he was in with a chance of buying an equine legend.
“When all the bad news hit out there last month, I started to inquire – tongue in cheek really – about Edict Of Nantes and Legal Eagle,” Van Huyssteen recalled. “I was told by Derek Brugman that all the horses would be up for sale.
“Listen,” I said. “I would like to put my name in the hat for both of them. I didn’t know what offers would be made but I knew there would be a lot of interest. Billy is a guy who knows about these things as well as being a good mate.
“He told me: ‘Braam, here is an opportunity to buy a proven Group 1 horse. Let’s go for it.’ I also spoke to another mate of mine, Hedley McGrath in Port Elizabeth. He won a Group 1 with Copper Parade and he said much the same.”
By this time Van Huyssteen had decided to whittle his purchasing ambitions down to just one of the two Markus Jooste stars. “It was my pocket that decided me – I’d lost a few bob of late and Edict Of Nantes was out of my reach. Even then I had to up my offer.”
The price quoted on many websites was R3.2 million. Van Huysteen laughed. “Plus VAT,” he corrected.
Seemingly, though, he gave no thought about the possibility of the horse recovering his purchase price in this month alone. “Not at all,” he insisted. “It’s not what you spend, it’s that on a big day I will have the opportunity to win a Group 1. I have bought some 400 horses already in my life, hoping and dreaming, and maybe God will shine the light on me this time.”
And the Met? Does he believe that Legal Eagle will make it third time lucky after finishing second in the last two years?
Van Huysteen smiled as he acknowledged the question. “I have to be honest, I’m not a racing connoisseur like you guys. For me it’s all about the Queen’s Plate at the moment. Let’s see how we go in that. After Saturday we can consider what comes next.”