Many years ago a shrewd bookmaker gave me some sound advice. “If you’re going to take odds-on about a horse do so because it is a good horse, not because it is the best horse in the field.”
It’s counsel I have not always heeded – often to my detriment – but it is worth following. Compare taking 5-10 about some struggling maiden with backing Legislate, winner of three Grade 1 and two Grade 2 races in his last five starts, in tomorrow’s R1-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate over 1600m at Kenilworth.
In the last year he won the Investec Cape Derby, the KRA Guineas, the Daily News 2000, the Vodacom Durban July and the Green Point Stakes. In the last run he beat most of the runners he meets tomorrow and cruised home in course-record time.
While the J&B Met on 31 January is his main mission, over this distance he should be too good for his two key rivals, Louis The King and Futura. The Met, over 2000m, could be another story.
Justin Snaith’s charge looks a stand-out bet and a banker in all Exotics.
That could come in useful as there are three carryovers on the day. Most important is a Pick 6 carryover of R321,709 with an estimated pool R3.25-million. With 12 races taking place on the day there will be a second Jackpot starting in Race 9, the Queen’s Plate, in which there is a carryover of R13,066 with an estimated Pool R700,000.
Finally there is a Pick 3 carryover of R6,653 on Races 6, 7, 8 with an expected pool of R75,000.
Trainer Geoff Woodruff has made it clear Louis The King’s mission is the Met and acknowledges Legislate will be “a difficult customer to beat”.
“He’s very fast,” Woodruff told colleague Nicci Garner. “That said, Louis The King and my other runner in the Queen’s Plate, Tellina, have a higher cruising speed than most horses and I expect them to run good races – as long as there’s some kind of pace on. With no pace, they’ll be seriously compromised.”
The same applies to Futura who has had a curtailed preparation owing to a cough.
The other Grade 1 feature on the card, the R1-million Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes over 1800m is a lot more open but the value could lie with Athina, who has proved herself in top company over this distance. Joey Soma’s charge is well enough drawn at No 9 and has the service of Piere Strydom. The main threat could come from Mike de Kock-trained Pine Princess, while Maybe Yes, Hammie’s Hooker, Jet Aglow and Jet Belle must all have chances.