Love Is Blue

Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth on Saturday


Away Test. The Sansui Summer Cup winner Yorker takes on SA’s best milers in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate

South Africa’s most prestigious mile contest plays out amid a sophisticated sea of blue and white at Kenilworth on Saturday.The very prime of a cross section of generations from all four corners of the country clash in the 153rd renewal of the R1 million Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.

It looks to be a fascinating race, whatever corner you find yourself in. Not that one necessary has to have a corner, but these major racing attractions have a way of bringing out the emotion and loyalties.

Blue, White & Red!

The race this year has amongst its numerous highlights the presence of the boom colt Red Ray, who takes on some serious older milers after having his confidence dented twice recently against the best of his year. The eternally competitive and sporting Joey Ramsden has thus introduced a welcome element of needle that will provide a subtle but sharp contrast with the correctness and decorum of the public face of a race that has close links to British Royalty and the country of his birth.

Ramsden has won the race many times and last year it was in the same green, yellow and black flag with Variety Club, after a false start drama threatened to cast a dark storm cloud over the blue and white glamour and social whirl. But this is 2014 and a new challenge dawns.

Big Question

Can Red Ray beat his elders? Red Ray receives 5kgs from the whole field and will have the eyes of the racing world on him here. This is his make or break chance. Anton Marcus has been aboard in both his recent defeats when beaten fair and square by Captain America in the Lanzerac Ready To Run Stakes (1400m) and then under a length behind Elusive Gold in the Cape Guineas.

In his last start, Red Ray was made liberal use of to overcome his wide draw, and he frankly has not drawn a lot better here. But there is no doubt a tactical plan has been hatched at Good Hope Racing HQ and his performance is key to the outcome of the race, in our book. His talented stablemate King Of Pain has become something of a ‘second rate citizen’ at his recent outings.

He has run three seconds in all of the Winter Derby, the Green Point Stakes and at his last outing in the Jet Master Stakes. Well drawn and with his regular pilot Bernard Fayd’herbe in the saddle, we recommend that King Of Pain be included in all permutations, as it appears that he is very fit and happy at a mile.



One Better? The brilliant Jackson can go one better after running a cracking second behind Variety Club last year

Champions Cup winner Jackson has drawn just on the inside of Red Ray, to continue the thread of rivalry between the Crawford and Ramsden yards. The entire ran a great return race when moving through late in the Diadem to run a 1,25 second to Welwitschia.

There was a school of thought that suggested that Glen Hatt looked after Jackson there, but that appears to be a bit harsh, and it is difficult to have imagined him getting to the fleetfooted De Kock mare, even with two whips on his rump. The second run after a rest hoodoo does not appear to have bothered Jackson in the past and he is a serious contender here.

City Slicker

Capetown Noir

Bouncing Back? The brilliant Capetown Noir has the draw in his favour and enjoys the summer course

The brilliant Capetown Noir has been fortunate in the draw stakes and the son of Western Winter gets an opportunity to put a rather disappointing fifth placed finish in the Green Point Stakes well behind him. He ran from a wide draw there, and went flat in the final stages after being used up in that race.

The 2012 Guineas and Derby victor only needs to hit his best form of the KZN Champions Season to go close to winning this, and he is a phenomenal animal on the summer course over this trip. His emphatic win in the 2013 Matchem Stakes was the most recent illustration of what he is capable of.

The second of the Kannemeyer runners is the Meakers’ recent Green Point Stakes winner, Ice Machine. Kevin Shea rides the exceptionally talented son of Silvano again, and but for his soundness issues, would have been an automatic place selection. He is a serious miler when at his best.

Raiding Party

Royal Zulu Warrior

Enigmatic. The Charity Mile winner Royal Zulu Warrior could take the Cape by storm

The visiting contingent is a powerful one and includes Geoff Woodruff’s exciting Sansui Summer Cup winner, Yorker. Carl and Amanda de Vos have bred some outstanding horses and Yorker looks to rank right up with the best. A longstriding smashingly handsome individual, he showed excellent heart and ability when downing Master Sabina in the Summer Cup and he comes in here with plenty in his favour.

Those ticks include the vast experience of jockey Robbie Fradd, the Cape knowledge of Terrance Millard’s son in law Geoff Woodruff and the benefits of a nice draw. That said he is actually held by Royal Zulu Warrior on their Charity Mile clash, and Yorker may ideally be at his best over 2000m. And Anton Marcus will know what is required to rattle him.

Fever Pitch

Sean Tarry’s Whiteline Fever has had no luck with the worst draw, but the son of Right Approach is running over his favourite distance and hit form with a smart win at his last start.

The second highest rated galloper in the race, the Daytona Stud bred Whiteline Fever has his first Cape run, but knows Clairwood well enough to handle the left handed turn here. It would be interesting to know whether Piere Strydom had the choice of rides between him and No Worries.

Bold Warrior

Trainer Kum Naidoo makes a rare trip to the Cape with the 2013 Charity Mile winner Royal Zulu Warrior. The Australian bred son of Mossman ran handily and stayed on for fourth behind Yorker in the Sansui Summer Cup at his last outing. He was beaten 2,25 lengths giving the Woodruff bomb 4,5kgs and now meets him at level weights.

Royal Zulu Warrior will also doubtless be happier over the 400m shorter. He remains a horse with a chequered past, peppered by flashes of brilliance, and it is not beyond the realms of probability that he will be right amongst the action.

Dennis Drier and Sean Cormack team up with the Jet Master colt (one of four sons of the late champion) Chave De Oura. This very lightly raced individual ran a storming second behind Tevez in the Merchants seven weeks back, and was scratched from the Diadem with an abscess.

It is worrying that he has only had the one run in close on ten months, but it would be foolish to discount the 2012 Gr3 Cape Classic winner. Lest it not be forgotten too, that he ran second in the Cape Guineas behind Capetown Noir last year.

Big Worries

Piere Strydom retains the ride on the Gavin Van Zyl trained No Worries, a horse that is frustration on four legs. The son of Kahal was going like a boeing down the inside rail during the final stages of the Premier Trophy, but stopped to run out of the money. He was reported to be not striding out though.

At his previous start, he ran helter skelter out front in the Green Point Stakes into a gale. That was a ride that cost his jockey his job. We are running short of excuses in the No Worries file, and even with Strydom up, he will not have it easy against this quality field of milers.

Exploring Opportunities

Richard Fourie rides the capable Jet Explorer from a moderate draw for Justin Snaith. The lightly raced 5yo gelding is not far off the best on his day and he showed his mettle with excellent KZN Champions Season performances last year. He won the Greyville 1900, was a great fifth behind Heavy Metal in the July and then ran 2,60 length fourth to Jackson in the Champions Cup.

In his last start, Jet Explorer made up many lengths in the final 300m to run a storming third in the Jet Master Stakes. He is coming right at just the right moment. Yogas Govender’s game and consistent 6yo Lake Arthur has fair recent form, which includes a smart fourth to Ze Kaiser in the Jet Master Stakes.

Lake Arthur’s excellent second behind Beach Beauty over 1400m in October, showed the level of performance he is capable of and he must have a place prospect if things go his way. A win for him would be something on the scale of Martial Eagle’s win in the 2013 Met, though.

Lesser Lights

The KZN based Cataloochee gelding Corredor looks to have been thrown in at the deep end here. He has changed stables from Garth Puller to brother Glen, and Corredor won his opening Cape start in good style over 1200m. He did not quicken when running unplaced in the Jet Master Stakes, and even with the genius of Andrew Fortune in the saddle, and the fact that he was placed behind Vercingetorix in the KRA Guineas last season, he looks to be doing little more than making up the numbers.

Mike Bass saddles the Australian bred Castlethorpe, who will close on two years without a win in a few months from now. Castlethorpe finished with only Depardieu behind him in the 2012 Queen’s Plate, and is not improving with age. He cannot have any realistic chance of winning this on his moderate current form.


A case can be argued for plenty. If the visitors travel well, they have the credentials to upstage the local hopes. We are going with Yorker to hold Capetown Noir and Jackson, with Red Ray the unknown factor if things go his way. But the likes of Royal Zulu Warrior, Jet Explorer and Chave De Oura can hardly be discounted. Whatever the outcome, it will be a mile contest to be remembered and discussed for many years to come.

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