Legal Eagle’s impressive victory in last Saturday’s Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate over 1 600 metres at Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town threw the betting for this year’s J&B Met into complete disarray.
Prior to last Saturday’s race, Futura was a 15-10 favourite to win the R2.5 million event over 2 000 metres at the Cape Town course on Saturday, January 30, but the Justin Snaith-trained horse could only finish fifth, beaten by just under four lengths by the Sean Tarry-trained runner.
As a result Betting World now has Legal Eagle priced up as the 11- 10 favourite with Futura on offer at 28-10. Legislate, who finished a 1.50-length second behind Legal Eagle, is at 11-2 with Smart Call, the filly who won the other Grade 1 race on the day – the Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes over 1 800 metres – at 12-1.
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Many pundits believed 1 600 metres would be too short for Legal Eagle, a winner of last year’s SA Derby over 2 450 metres, especially as he was taking on SA’s best 1 600 metres runners.
Jockey Anton Marcus got him out in a flash, and unlike his previous runs in which he got too far behind, Legal Eagle was able to sit in second place and canter into the lead once the field turned for home.
It soon became apparent the son of Greys Inn, a previous Durban July winner, was not going to get caught despite all the urgings from Legislate and three-yearold Noah From Goa who finished third.
Bookmakers suspended betting on the Met immediately the horses crossed the finishing line. While Marcus was quick to play down the chances of his mount in the Met – “We’ll take it one race at a time” – it is apparent all the statistics will favour the horse owned by Ingrid and Markus Jooste.
He will be fitter, will prefer the additional 400 metres, will have a weight advantage over the rivals he beat in the Queen’s Plate, and will now be more familiar with the Kenilworth track.