The curtain came down on an entertaining first day of the 2020 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Racing Festival shortly after 5pm on Friday and we now move into the build-up to the headline event on Day 2.
It has been billed as having all the makings of the race of the season and with 50% of the field Gr1 winners, the hotly contested R1,5 million Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate is set to live up to all expectations.
Our premier weight-for-age mile boasts one of its mostly keenly poised clashes in years with defending champion and dual July winner Do It Again facing Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge and the De Kock star duo of Hawwaam and Soqrat.
And does it even end there, with the local 4yo trio of Vardy, One World and Twist Of Fate keeping the top quartet honest?
The SP top-rated is the defending champion Do It Again, who blotted his copybook after a five month break when beaten just over 5 lengths by Vardy in the Green Point Stakes. The son of Twice Over has won 50% of his starts and will have vengeance written all over him as he is not the kind of fellow who enjoys losing. The recently quieter than usual Snaith yard are launching a massive attack on the LQP Festival with over 50 runners – more than some saddle all season – over the two days. If back to his best their big man Do It Again rates the horse to beat.
Rainbow Bridge was beaten some 3 lengths by Do It Again in the 2019 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the son of Ideal World ran on steadily when hesitating late and finishing 3 lengths ahead of his arch-rival in the Green Point Stakes last time. The Champions Cup winner played second fiddle to Do It Again in the Gold Challenge and the July last season, but there is little to separate them on any fine Saturday.
Mike de Kock has cautioned us not to overlook Summer Cup runner-up Soqrat, who went down narrowly last year – as an immature 3yo – behind Do It Again, but who has furnished beautifully this term. He was given a mountain to climb in the Summer Cup last time and ran on like a trojan – but read more about what jockey Callan Murray has to say about his mount here
His stablemate Hawwaam has his penultimate start on African soil here and after his facile Premier Trophy victory, he holds the deserved position as the top-ranker on the Bookies’ boards. He now drops back to a mile and there are many who believe that he is not invincible over this trip. Anton Marcus rides him from a pole position draw and he put up an impressive 1000m gallop at Kenilworth last Saturday.
Undercover Agent hit a peak last season in the Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes and then stayed on well for third and 1,5 lengths behind One World in the Matchem. He was beaten 4 lengths by One World after hitting the front at the top of the straight in this race last year and was cramped late in the Green Point when beaten 4,40 lengths by Vardy – whom he meets on 2kgs better terms here.
The least experienced runner in the field, the constantly improving Vardy has won 5 of his 8 starts and started his 4yo campaign in style when bulleting home to win the Gr2 Green Point Stakes after a five month break last time. There were a few in that race in need of the run. This is his biggest career test to date and if the second run syndrome and his tendency to hang late in his races doesn’t disrupt his chances, he could be equal to the test.
The top-class One World stayed on strongly in the Green Point Stakes when beaten a length and giving Vardy a kilo. At level weights there should be little to choose between the duo here and jockey MJ Byleveld is riding with renewed vigour and confidence.
Vardy’s stablemate and former Joey Ramsden charge Twist Of Fate has run two fair races as a 4yo – his last when a 5 length third behind Hawwaam in receipt of a kilo in the Gr2 Premier Trophy. He is bound to strip a lot sharper here and based on his best 3yo form could trouble the top trio if given half a chance.
Glen Kotzen’s Sun Met supplementary entry Pack Leader has made good progress since a long rest and was beaten 4 lengths by Vardy in the Green Point Stakes. His main target looks likely to be the Met and his connections will probably be looking for him to confirm his readiness and be staying on here again.
Likely pacemaker from the Snaith yard, the Australian-bred Crown Towers has only had one outing this term, when beaten just over two lengths by Capoeira in a small field. He ran a fair third behind Infamous Fox in the Listed Darley Arabian on July day, but looks to have an uphill battle on his hands here at level weights.
There should be nothing to separate the top four at the line.
We are leaning towards Soqrat and Do It Again, to hold Hawwaam and Rainbow Bridge. But there’s Vardy, One World and Twist Of Fate to consider, too! Not easy and it could all come down to luck in running and conditions on the day. Don’t miss it – off at 16h45.
The Pick 6 starts with a carryover of R500 000 in Race 4 at 14h45. Estimated pool is R4 Million. After Friday’s knockout, we need to bounce back – any suggestions, welcome!
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