The field for Saturday’s R1.5 million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate is back in double figures after last year’s nine when Legal Eagle tasted defeat for the first time in four years.
Mike de Kock, successful just once so far with Mother Russia in 2011, will – as expected – be two-handed with last year’s runner-up Soqrat (Callan Murray) and hot favourite Hawwaam (Anton Marcus). Bernard Fayd’Herbe replaces the injured Robert Khathi on 66-1 shot Crown Towers.
Fayd’Herbe has won the race five times starting with Trademark 19 years ago while Marcus rode the first of his seven Queen’s Plate winners on Empress Club back in 1993. Richard Fourie, successful on Do It Again 12 months ago, is the only other riding in the Kenilworth showpiece to have won it before.
Hawwaam is marginally odds-on with most bookmakers at around 19-20 while Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge, beaten over three lengths into third last year, shares second favouritism at 11-2 with Soqrat who failed by only a neck 12 months ago. Do It Again and Green Point winner Vardy are both on 6-1 with the others well into double figures. You have to go back to 13-1 shot Gimmethegreenlight in 2012 to find a Queen’s Plate winner starting at a bigger price than 7-1.
The 11 declared for the Cartier Paddock Stakes is the smallest for the 1 800m Grade 1 since Beach Beauty, and more particularly the subsequently scratched Igugu, scared off all but four others in 2012. Beach Beauty started odds-on that day but was beaten by Thunder Dance ridden by the now Hong Kong star Karis Teetan for Brett Crawford who supplies the 18-10 favourite Front And Centre.
Champion sprinter Kasimir reappears in the Design Indaba Pinnacle and on Friday Candice Bass-Robinson runs five in a bid to extend her remarkable record in the Cartier Sceptre Stakes. Victory for one of them would mean that the Milnerton trainer has won the 1 200m Grade 2 in each of the four years she has held a licence. Last year’s winner Clouds Unfold is the shortest-priced of the quintet at 9-2 and the Sean Tarry-trained Celtic Sea is favourite at 16-10.
By Michael Clower