Historically the R1-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate has always been seen as South Africa’s premier 1600m race and these days it is viewed as one of the best in the world.
This year it has been honoured, with one or two exceptions, by having the strongest field that could be assembled. Justin Snaith saddles last year’s winner Futura and Legislate, Brett Crawford sends out Green Point Stakes winner Captain America, Joey Ramsden has Act Of War while Mike de Kock has even stuck in leading three-year-old Noah From Goa.
Add to that last year’s Durban July winner Power King and Summer Cup champion Master Sabina, as well as Legal Eagle, the highest rated runner in the country, and the race is heading for a thrilling finish.
Most of these runners have been entered in the J&B Met so with the R2.5-million race just three weeks away, they all have to be very close to peak fitness.
Futura has that incredible acceleration which he can do off either a fast or slow pace. He has won over 1600m, loves this course and could well follow in Pocket Power’s footsteps and pull off the double. He ran just 0.50 lengths behind Captain America in the Green Point Stakes but that was on the winter course and there is no doubt Futura will enjoy the longer run-in of the New Course.
Captain America looks at his best over the “mile” so he must be a contender. It would come as something of a surprise if he did not feature in the Quartet.
Legislate has not raced since finishing third behind Futura in the Champions Cup on 1 August but he does tend to race well when fresh and he will have the services of Piere Strydom in the irons.
De Kock is never scared to throw his runners in at the deep end and that is exactly what has happened with Cape Guineas winner Noah From Goa. This is a horse who knows how to win and if he gets to the front early in the straight, he could be hard to get past.
Act Of War finished fourth in the Green Point Stakes and one can find little reason why he should reverse the form on the likes of Captain America and Futura.
The R1-million Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes over 1800m also looks to be a real cracker with the likes of Same Jurisdiction, Smart Call, Pine Princess and last year’s winner, Inara, all in the line-up.
Same Jurisdiction is a worthy favourite but has still to prove she will see out a hard-run 1800m and she has to contend with No 16 draw. On the plus side, she will have Anton Marcus in the irons but it might be better to go with Smart Call who is drawn No 5 and has Weichong Marwing in the irons.