A thrilling four-cornered finish that spanned just a long head confirmed the boom billing of the R400 000 Gr2 Green Point Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday and provided a tantalising needle platform into the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Sun Met next month.
We suggested in our preview that this had the makings of the race of the century and that the marketing scriptwriters could not have dreamt up the plot. Well it panned out perfectly, thanks to four top horses and a polished performance by a jockey at the very pinnacle of his game.
With an absence of any commitment to lead in the small field, Anton Marcus did what he has done before on Legal Eagle and took the initiative – before Corne Orffer figured the plot and took Gr1 Gold Challenge winner Undercover Agent to lead after 500m, with July winner Do It Again and the unbeaten Rainbow Bridge further back.
The race moved up a notch or three at the 450m marker, as the summer course straight welcomed feature contestants for the first time this term
With Anton Marcus still cruising down the centre as Legal Eagle took over from Undercover Agent, Fourie took Do It Again down the inside rail, with Rainbow Bridge moving well down the outside.
At the 200m, Legal Eagle was being hailed a winner under the brilliant Marcus – but the picture changed at the 100m as they all came for him, with Undercover Agent rallying impressively after looking beaten halfway down the strip.
With storming challenges coming on all sides, Legal Eagle was 50/50 for his biggest fight ever as Marcus got the champion to dig half an inch deeper.
The photo revealed that the evergreen 7yo had held on by a nose to beat Undercover Agent, with Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge completing the quartet – a short head separating each in one of the greatest finishes any of us will see in our lifetime.
The official time – if it mattered – was 98,92 secs. Comparisons with Legal Eagle’s past two Green Point victories show that this was his slowest to date. But handsome is as handsome does!
Part-owner Braam van Huyssteen, who also owns a share in the runner-up, and trainer Sean Tarry together summed it up best – suggesting that it was a great pity that any one of them had to lose, while mooting that running the race three more times may see three different winners. Who knows?
Van Huyssteen added more value – pointing out that the way Rainbow Bridge finished, he is going to be a tough customer to stop in the Sun Met on 26 January over 400m further.
Port Elizabeth-based Hedley McGrath, who won the Gr2 Southern Cross Stakes a half hour earlier at the same venue, and Australian William Henderson, make up the winner ownership of a true champion galloper.
This was Legal Eagle’s third consecutive win in the Green Point Stakes and he now goes in search of a fourth L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate success on 5 January.
“He is not improving – but he is getting stronger,” said Tarry, who has increased his margin over current SA Champion Justin Snaith atop the national trainer’s log.
Tarry also paid tribute to his Cape satellite team, headed by Monique Mansour.
Legal Eagle, who has won 15 races with 8 places from 26 starts for stakes of R11 854 625, was bought by Sean Tarry on behalf of former leading owner Markus Jooste for R425 000 at the 2013 BSA National Yearling Sale.
After the Mayfair Speculators implosion a year ago, the ‘three wise men’ of Messrs McGrath, Van Huyssteen and Henderson took over Legal Eagle and tasted instant success in the 2018 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Bred by Avontuur, the dual SA Horse Of The Year is a mutliple Gr1 winning son of Vodacom Durban July winner Greys Inn (Zabeel) and is out of the six-time winning Young Sensation (National Emblem)-who was also trained by Sean Tarry.
Bring on the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate!
Gr2 Green Point Stakes (SAf-Gr2)
Kenilworth, South Africa, December 8, R400k, 1600m, turf, good, 1.38.92
1 – LEGAL EAGLE (SAF), 60.0, b g 7, Greys Inn (USA) – Young Sensation (SAF) by National Emblem (SAF). Owner Messrs William Henderson, F H McGrath & A J van Huyssteen; Breeder Avontuur Farm; trainer SG Tarry; jockey A Marcus
2 – Undercover Agent (SAF), 60.0, b c 4, Captain Al (SAF) – Secret Risk by London News (SAF)
3 – Do It Again (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Twice Over (GB) – Sweet Virginia (SAF) by Casey Tibbs (IRE)
Margins: 0.05, 0.05, 0.05