A Penny For Your Thoughts

How About Fifty Cents For A Queen's Plate Runner?

Fifty Cents wins a scrappy Jet Master Stakes last December

Horse racing is full of stories. Every race tells a story. Every person tells a story and more particularly, every horse tells a story. As one of the oldest races on our calendar, the Queen’s Plate is one of the most storied of all, with horses and people from all walks of life gracing the pages of its illustrious history.

There’s an expression that in racing, it’s better to be lucky than good. Money can buy a lot of things, but even that is no guarantee in racing and people may spend years (and most of their savings!) pursuing a goal without ever achieving it. Racing is just like that.

To put things into perspective, at least as far as the Queen’s Plate goes, I’m borrowing from my friend Charles Faull, who illustrated what it costs – in real terms – to produce a Queen’s Plate winner.

What the numbers say

In his Queen’s Plate ‘heronomics’, Charles explains, “Since 1948, there have been 65 runnings of South Africa’s premier test of racing merit, the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. Nine imported horses have been victorious in 11 renewals of the race. That leaves 54 runnings won by South African-breds. Because of multiple wins, these 54 runnings have been won by 43 individual South African bred runners. The 65 South African-bred crops corresponding to this period (ie the 1945 to 2011 foal crops) have produced a total of 185 391 named foals. 185,391 ÷ 43 = 4,311 i.e. only one in 4,311 foals bred in South Africa has been good enough to win a Queen’s Plate.” Of course money helps, but it can only get you so far. Luck, on the other hand is another thing altogether….

Enter Fifty Cents, who has quietly made his way into the Queen’s Plate line-up after a rather scrappy win in the Listed Jet Master Stakes in December. He has drawn 4 and current SA jockey log leader, Greg Cheyne has been engaged for the ride. He runs in the white with red spots, blue sleeves and cap of Anyasec (Pty) Ltd and Miss Caroline Rupert. As it’s rather fun to have a runner for the Rupert family, who put so much into this day, I thought I’d find out more.

Fifty Cents

Caroline explains, “I’ve always been surrounded by horses and rode from a young age, but it was only a few years ago while standing in the parade ring and watching the jockeys mount that I became electrified by racing itself, so for my birthday Mum gave me one of her yearlings from the farm, Wooden Star. I think her plan was to encourage my love and it worked as in the years that followed I bought a beautiful filly, Red Disa, who is back at the farm and in foal to Trippi, and now I have Fifty Cents in training.’

Caroline’s colours are white with red spots, blue sleeves and cap. She says, “When I chose my colours I chose blue and white so that it’s still attached to the farm and my mum and what she’s doing there, but with red to make them my silks. Fifty Cents is by Trippi out of a mare called Pristine Performer, which my mom really likes and she liked this foal a lot. In fact, the grooms liked him as well. I know the foals on our farm quite well and I just loved him. He did go to the CTS sale, but didn’t reach his reserve. My mom doesn’t hold back horses she likes, but did say to me that if I wanted to I should bid on him and if he didn’t reach his reserve I’d get a nice horse. He didn’t reach what we thought he was worth, so I guess I was lucky,” she smiles.

“I’ve had all three horses with the Snaiths and they’ve all done really well. Jono and Justin are amazing; they provide constant updates on how the horses are doing and send photos. They let me know when they’re taking my horse to the beach so I can join and ride with them. It’s been so much fun and I’ve been really lucky, so it’s been great. And now Fifty Cents is entered for the Queen’s Plate, I’m incredibly humbled and honoured to see him in my silks in the parade ring.”

“We’re planning to assign theme songs for all the runners in the main race. I suppose Fifty Cents will have to have ‘In Da Club’. We’re still going to see how we’ll play it, to make sure it won’t interfere with the horses parading or going down to the start and then obviously it would play for the winner as they are led into the parade ring.”

“I work in entertainment, where we’re all about trying to make experiences immersive. Some of the Queen’s Plate attendants may not be that well versed with racing, so the idea is to get the crowd a little more engaged and identify with the different runners. When Frankel had his last start at Ascot as he came around the back into the parade ring they played Coldplay’s Us Against The World. There were all these banners and flags hanging from the grandstand – it was incredible.”

Asked about the Anyasec (Pty) Ltd half of the partnership, Caroline says that it’s her father, Johann Rupert. “He owned a horse called Amajuba, but this is his first horse for many years, so it’s special.”

Fifty Cents is not without a chance. Jono Snaith confirms that he’s not finished out of the money in his entire career and from 12 starts has always finished in the first 4. “He’s quite a consistent horse. He was a little immature and took a while to get going, but we always knew he would come late and he’s finally maturing into a really smart horse. He’s not going to be out of place in the ring on Saturday and despite going up a lot in the weights, I think he’s going to hold his own.”

It’s a big ask – for any horse – to win a race like the Queen’s Plate, but as we all know, when it comes to racing, Lady Luck does love a good story.

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