Record-breaking Legislate is difficult to oppose in tomorrow’s L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and even harder to back with his price shortening almost by the day. You couldn’t even get 1-2 for much of earlier this week, writes Michael Clower.
It’s an incredible race for favourites.
They have won seven of the last nine and even the usual imponderable of the pace is seemingly not an issue for the four-year-old who is bidding to join the select group (seven in the last 50 years) who have completed the Durban July-Queen’s Plate double.
Justin Snaith insists: “We don’t mind if the gallop is fast or slow” and Richard Fourie goes further, saying: “The slower they go the better for me because my horse can quicken better than any of these. He is in a good place and I am very confident.”
Most of the opposition – trainers as well as jockeys – believe the gallop will be far from searching and Futura’s rider Bernard Fayd’Herbe, bidding for his fifth Queen’s Plate, echoes the views of many when he says: “Normally there is a decent pace in the Queen’s Plate but I don’t see it this time, and that will be in Legislate’s favour.”
Louis The King, rated only half a length behind Legislate and second favourite at 4-1, is a real racehorse who finishes like a train and fights like a tiger. But this mile, surely, is a bit on the short side?
“Maybe at this stage but not definitely,” answers Geoff Woodruff who won this with Jet Master in 2000 and again with Yard-Arm four years later. “A decent pace would help but it doesn’t look as if we are going to get that.”
Woodruff has already ruled out making the running with 25-1 shot Tellina who was nibbled at 33-1 earlier in the week. “You can’t sacrifice one man’s horse for another in a R1 million race,” he bluntly points out.
Gold Onyx needs further – he was a close third in the Gold Cup – but he, like all bar fellow 40-1 shot Ashton Park and Kingvoldt, is also in the J & B Met three weeks later and setting a strong gallop into the wind is hardly an ideal prep for Cape Town’s richest race.
This is the smallest Queen’s Plate field for 13 years and Kingvoldt is only the seventh three-year-old to run during that period. The Cape Guineas third has been friendless in the market all week, drifting from 8-1 to 14-1, and he won’t lead either.
“I will leave it to Karl Neisius,”says Joey Ramsden, bidding for his fourth win. “But he has some pretty useful form over six furlongs so there is no reason for him to be rushing off to the front.”
The one horse other than the favourite for whom a slow gallop might not be a major disadvantage is Futura, simply because his cough-induced hold-up means he won’t be at peak fitness.
He has gone out from 4-1 to 6-1 – and is looking increasingly each way value at that price – but Brett Crawford is keeping his feet firmly on the ground and his sights directly on the Met.
“Futura has pace and he can quicken but he likes to do so off a good pace,”the Philippi trainer points out, seemingly determined not to over-buoy hopes that were so cruelly dashed when Jackson went close in the last two years. “I now think it’s the Met when we can really trouble this horse of the Snaiths.”