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Met – Eagle May Be Ridden From Off The Pace

The gelding was very quiet on Queen's Plate day

Three-times SA Champion trainer Sean Tarry has never been one to dwell on defeat or offer excuses but he gave a factual analysis of Legal Eagle’s defeat in last Saturday’s Gr1 L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate and confirmed Lyle Hewitson would be riding him in the Sun Met.

Sean Tarry – looking to a good day

Tarry said he normally had difficulty saddling Legal Eagle and the horse usually played up in the parade ring too.

However, the seven-year-old gelding had been “quiet” in both instances on Saturday.

He said there had been nothing wrong with the way he strode out going down to the start but noticed he had not taken hold of the bit.

He added Legal Eagle had not travelled well at any stage of the race.

He concluded, “So he was not really himself on the day and then ran a flat race.”

The superstar had been attempting to equal Pocket Power’s record of four successive Queen’s Plates. He had gone into the race undefeated in ten attempts at a mile

Tarry continued, “He was a bit quiet the next day, but we have freshened him up and he is well. So it was just an off day on the wrong day, but that’s life.”

Legal Eagle is at 16-1 with Hollywood for the Met – read more

Legal Eagle is considered best at a mile but did win the SA Derby as a three-year-old and won the Grade 1 Champions Challenge over 2000m as a four-year-old. He has twice finished runner up in the Met and fourth once and he finished second once in the Champions Challenge.

Legal Eagle

Tarry raised an interesting point, “I would like to see an analysis on how he has done over 2000m when coming from off the pace and how he has done when up at the front.”

Tarry thus hinted Legal Eagle would come from off the pace in the Met although he added that was just the way he had been thinking at present and it might all change after the draw ceremony.

Tarry had gone into last year’s Met supremely confident, but unfortunately the race just did not pan out well for Legal Eagle. He was caught wide and Marcus was eventually forced to take him up further forward than had been the plan. He then found no extra in the closing stages and finished a disappointing fourth.

Safe Harbour wins the Lanzerac Ready To Run Cup in 2016

In other Tarry yard news from last Saturday’s Kenilworth meeting Safe Harbour has been retired to stud after sustaining a tendon injury in the Gr1 Cartier Paddock Stakes where she finished eighth. The five-year-old Elusive Fort mare failed to attain bold black type in a 27 race career but will nevertheless be valuable as her three career wins included the R2,5 million Lanzerac Ready To Run Stakes and her five Grade 1-places included runner up finishes in all of the Cape Fillies Guineas, Paddock Stakes and SA Fillies Classic.

The final declarations for the Sun Met meeting are at 11h00 on Monday 14 January.


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8 comments on “Met – Eagle May Be Ridden From Off The Pace

  1. dave mollett says:

    Despite 45 years as a racing journo, I’m finding it hard to find the right word to describe Sean Tarry’s handling of champion, Legal Eagle.
    “Outstanding” isn’t good enough – perhaps “Superlative” is the right choice.
    Nevertheless, not even a change of tactics is going to get the seven year-old over the line first in the Sun Met. Eventually, as is the case with Andy Murray in tennis, the fact has to be faced that the best days are behind you.
    Sean has been in the game long enough to know which racing journos are worth talking to and which aren’t.
    Turftalk’s Charl Pretorius falls into the former category and in his interview with Sean this season’s leading trainer said that “people’s enthusiasm (for Legal Eagle in the Met) would have dampened by his run in the Queen’s Plate, but I’m not one of them.”
    “Anton (Marcus) is not my stable jockey, he is not obligated to ride Legal Eagle and this is a good opportunity for Lyle who is riding very well.”
    That’s the sort of fighting talk we expect from a guy who has risen from humble beginnings to the top of his career, but I doubt if champion Lyle Hewitson shares his opinion that riding the seven year-old is a “good opportunity”. The formbook suggests the bookies have priced him up correctly.
    Yet – as with Andy Murray who has delighted Wimbledon fans for many years – we can take huge satisfaction at Legal Eagle’s memorable big race wins.
    Surely he’s a certainty for the equine section of the newly-introduced “Hall Of Fame” .

  2. Tony Mincione says:

    I am thrilled to see Sean Tarry’s enthusiasm for Legal Eagle in the Met. Any price people may get about Legal Eagle will be more from the debate as to whether he can quite get his superb rating over 2000m as he does like clockwork over 1600m.

    Tarry has to be admired as a man who can get a 2yo to win on debut as readily as he gets 7yo’s to perform in Gr1’s, and everything in between. He can train a filly or a colt, a sprinter or a stayer, and he’s not quick to make excuses.

    Legal Eagles form beyond 1600m is 2-1-1-1-5-2-2-1-2-2-4-8 Nearly all Grade 1’s. Beaten in the Mets, his distances have been 3.50 L 2nd to Smart Call, 1.50 L 2nd to Whisky Baron and 1.65 L 4th to Oh Susanna.

    I can see why Anton Marcus chose to switch to a runner that will almost certainly go to KZN, and I can see why L.Hewitson would be thrilled to try and strike up a relationship with a horse that has won the Horse Chestnut Gr1 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 with no signs of stopping.

    As for this Met; perhaps other than the defending champion, no one deserves to be there more. I hope they shine in his 28th start of 7 years. I hope we see his 40th start.

  3. Paul says:

    Interesting to know if the “best days behind” view existed prior to the Queens Plate? The 2 previous runs were pretty decent; and surely the trainer is best placed to judge. Any horse can have an “off” day, no?

  4. Harold says:

    Let’s not forget another lightly raced “Eagle” won the Met as a 7 year old. We tend to write off our horses too early in SA. Maybe a change in Jockey will do the trick LE is my best outsider

  5. Brian says:

    I frat all the comments posted on this forum have only served to awaken the sleeping giant

  6. pmb says:

    LE was the horse all the jocks were riding to beat in the last few Met running’s. They were watching him for pace and trying to time their challenges to beat him. Now that there will be many to watch it may well give him the leeway to run as comfortably as possibly. I dont think he has the burst speed of some, but if the pace is moderate to decent,he will be right there.It would be no shock if he could pull it off in the year that so many will be favoured above him . Going to be another great race

  7. Nogal a good point, Harold & Paul

  8. Allan says:

    I respect the Eagle as one of the best but losing his undefeated mile record to the new champ is no disgrace. Do it Again has won the July and Queens plate while improving at WFA terms. Oh Susanna was the first 3yo filly in 100 years to win the Met at WFA terms. They are both ideally suited to 2000m. Only Rainbow Bridge and outside chance of the Eagle preventing a Snaith exacta.

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