The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate day at Kenilworth on Saturday once again proved the punting maxim that the bigger the raceday, the bigger the Pick 6 payout.
But a tough day at the office for many punters appeared, by all accounts, to be a dazzling blurr of blue and white for the social movers and shakers who seemed clueless about missing bankers, fuddled form and hard-luck stories as they partied up a storm
Overall the event must go down as an unqualified success for the sponsors, who have elevated the LQP to horseracing’s classiest party of the year.
But these Pick 6 payouts are a strange anomaly on high quality horseracing days. Maybe the overall level of competitiveness just makes it so much more tougher?
One would really think that better quality horses and a smattering of weight-for-age races would tend to provide the more predictable results. The brain game, as they used to call it.
But, despite the promise of bankers from many quarters – a varied choice of Legislate, to Helderberg Blue to Jet Aglow, Saturday’s Pick 6 delivered a very healthy dividend of R1 511 360 to just over two lucky winners.
And in so doing it maintained the trend of recent months, as it made fools of many of us regulars and the experts – which included former Bafana Bafana coach, Gordon Igesund.
The only difference is the Pick 6 is ego entertainment for the big boys – whereas it’s often survival for the smaller player. Especially in the back-to-school month of January.
Thinking back – the Sansui Summer Cup Pick 6 paid over R2 million – but that was a day of many more handicaps and the weather wasn’t exactly great either.
The Avontuur Fillies Guineas’ major exotic paid R181 000, while the Cape Guineas paled in comparison and played ball with a relatively minor R40 683.
But let’s stop whinging.
Whether twelve races of the Neil Andrews wit is your cuppa or not, Saturday was great entertainment.
It certainly started on a good note – that is, for anybody brave or crazy enough to back a 1 to 3 shot in a workriders’ race! Justin Snaith issued a friendly warning to the capable Justin Andrews that his job was on the line – and the young man made no mistakes in the first on Hassen Adams’ Aces United.
The ‘slower’ of the Snaith’s two Drakenstein owned and bred debutantes won the second race when the beautifully named Trippi filly Sunrise In Africa skated home a comfortable winner under Sean Cormack. Her quicker stablemate ended up running third and out of the Bipots.
Paarl trainer Glen Kotzen’s eldest son Kuyan is not only the youngest owner in the country – he has got to be one of the luckiest, too.
Greg Cheyne piloted Kuyan’s interestingly named Cathy Specific in his red and white silks to win the third, amid explanations of how she was named, with references to drag queens and circuses from the pleased as punch, Glen.
Neil Andrews felt that the silks were lovely and that the ‘K’ stood out. A puzzling observation.
In the fourth, the opening leg of the Pick 6, veteran rider Karl Neisius made a ‘shrewd move’ by angling wide to the outside rail and unintentionally setting a trend followed by his colleagues for the rest of the day.
Let’s not forget – 2015 is the Year Of The Sheep.
In the end we learnt that the browband had became displaced and slipped over the gutsy winner St Tropez’ left ear, which resulted in the veteran jockey being unable to fully assist his mount on the bend.
The son of Silvano looks promising and the stage was set for a decent Pick 6 payout – and Phumelela’s Vee Moodley was almost left eating his words after he had brassed the runner-up Night In Seattle in his exotic bet.
The fifth race saw Justin Snaith’s ‘best runner’ of the day being scratched at the start. A decidedly passive (and dare we say, ice cool?) Bernard Fayd’herbe meekly unsaddled Villa Del Largo after the Jallad gelding had reared in the stalls and withdrawn by the vet.
But the drama was not over.
In the final stages of the sprint, a flying Castlethorpe shifted out away from Happy Forever. who rolled out and caused Muscatt to be cramped for galloping room and having to be eased.
With Piere Strydom, Karl Neisius and Richard Fourie involved in the how’s your father theatrics up front, apprentice Xavier Carstens came off worst while minding his own business as his mount Savannah Song clipped Muscatt’s heels and did a spectacular somersault just before the line.
In something reminiscent of a scene from Iron Man 2, both horse and rider thankfully landed up walking back to the parade ring – and the stipes could find no jockey to blame for what could have been an horrific accident.
With Helderberg Blue all the talk, Richard Fourie and Justin Snaith struck again as Arion charged home to win the sixth, the Gr2 Peninsula Handicap and make it a 1-2 for Silvano.
Part-owner Hassen Adams admitted rather coyly in the post-race interview that he had forgotten that he had a runner in the race as he was chatting to Justin Snaith’s wife.
One of the other Arion co-owners Greg Bortz was on course and he said his only instructions were that Fourie salute his suite. Apparently Bortz also offered to pay Fourie’s fine – but there was none forthcoming as his action appeared to be on the line.
Piere Strydom (big of the sponsors to allow him to wear his own sponsored breeches) and the Jooste silks were back in the winner’s enclosure for Joey Ramsden in the seventh, the Gr3 Julius Baer Politician Stakes, with the high-riding trainer suggesting the sponsor reps looked like they ‘worked for BMW’.
And it may now also be high time to go public with the Derek Brugman/Iceland / Reykjavik joke that rears its head every now and again when the Jooste horses win – which these days is every day! Neil Andrews was enjoying the chuckle but went quiet when Joey made reference to the Cook Islands. Maybe the MC’s geography is not too hot?
Grant Van Niekerk rode his first career Gr1 winner when Mike Bass-trained Inara caused some havoc in running but still managed to grab top honours in the eighth, the R1 million Maine Chance Farms Gr1 Paddock Stakes.
The fancied runners went missing, with visiting trainer Joey Soma and jockey Piere Strydom a touch unlucky not to get Athina home after the daughter of Fort Wood was stone last turning for home.
After being assured that everybody knew there would be no pace on in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate but that it really didn’t matter at all, the odds-on favourite Legislate was beaten into last as the underprepared Futura waltzed home in the ninth, the final nail in the Pick 6 coffin,
The British High Commissioner Mrs Judith Macgregor was on the podium to hand over the Queen’s Plate, and what a pleasure to hear an eloquent and polished public speaker in an environment where the english language is verbally assaulted on a daily basis.
Neil Andrews seemed shocked that Mrs Macgregor was on a racecourse for the first time in her life and he chirped cheekily that ‘we will have to get Lord March to get you to Goodwood and twinned.’
The Met picture suddenly looks rather blurred and we are all a touch confused – especially after Killua Castle won such a cracker in the London News Stakes on Sunday.
In the tenth, the 2800m Pinnacle Stakes, the fancied Wavin’ Flag (tipped by Grant Knowles about three weeks earlier) showed that his Gold Cup win and his sizzling Summer Cup fourth place meant little as he flopped at 17 to 10, in a relatively modest field.
PE and Gauteng retread Current Event, a horse seemingly only entered to save the race from extinction, dead-heated with Joey Ramsden’s revitalised Coltrane in a grandstand finish.
In the eleventh race of the afternoon, Mike Stewart’s equine Zola Budd, Promicing Polly, came out barefeet under Sean Cormack and annihilated her opposition with an impressive display of power sprinting.
The Noordhoek based Stewart said it would have been nice to have won the Queen’s Plate, but that it was an honour to win a race on the day. He confirmed that he had tipped Promicing Polly to his friends – but none had listened as nobody ever believed him.
His wife Ingrid declared that she was going to crack open the champagne and start the party.
In the twelfth and final race of the day, the 2014 LQP winning combo Dean Kannemeyer and Karl Neisius finally brought some sanity to proceedings with Peach Delight being one of only three tote favourites to win on the day.
Europe-based owner Lars Kelp was on the podium and had Neil Andrews asking awkward questions about the bevy of lovely ladies who had accompanied him.
Andrews then broke into song when it transpired that the winning groom’s name was Young One.Nobody clapped.
The Tellytrack team of presenters made their farewell appearance on stage as the shadows lengthened.
A really well-balanced quartet of Stan Elley, Vicky Minott, Deez Dayanand and Fiona Ramsden – they complimented each other well and it works a charm without the unecessary silly banter that is often the underlying thread.
As for Andrews’ Young Ones, Elley quipped:”That has got to be the worst rendition of Cliff Richard’s hit song ever…”
With a bit of luck we could get Chester Missing for next year – and find ourselves a winning banker.