Nicci Garner: Top-class four-year-old Marinaresco nearly gave Legal Eagle a fright in the 1600m Green Point Stakes at Kenilworth last month and there is a strong possibility he can beat the ruling Equus Horse Of The Year in the R1,5-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate over the same trip on Saturday.
Marinaresco is second favourite for the country’s premier 1600m race, possibly because it is generally accepted the Silvano gelding is much better at the Sun Met distance of 2000m and, in his peak run following a break, might now find the distance on the sharp side. Often fresh horses can excel at distances shorter than optimal in their first couple of runs following a layoff. He was out of action for nearly three months after winning the 1800m Champions Cup at Greyville last season and did well to finish third over 1200m in his comeback before that 0.40-length second in the Green Point Stakes.
His trainer Candice Bass-Robinson believes the distance is no problem for her stable star. “Obviously, his best trip is 2000m but he’s doing really well and has come on from his last run. He’s nice and strong so will handle the ‘mile’ well enough.”
Marinaresco is not optimally drawn, which is a concern. “I don’t think much of the draw,” she said. “This horse just never gets a draw. It might not be a big field, but it would be nice for once to jump out and park off instead of coming from off the pace.”
Marinaresco was drawn No 6 of the eight runners in the Green Point Stakes, so No 10 draw in the 11-horse field should not unduly affect his chances.
“It will depend on how the race pans out but I’m expecting a big run from him,” she said before adding: “Legal Eagle is not an easy horse to beat over a ‘mile’.”
Bass-Robinson has three runners in the main supporting feature, the R1-million Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes. Her trio is headed up by Silver Mountain, who is favourite behind Bela-Bela.
The Silvano filly’s three-year-old career went a little pear-shaped after an impressive Sizzling Summer Season at the Cape last year and while Bass-Robinson believes “Bela-Bela is the one to beat, if Silver Mountain sees out the distance, she’ll be right there”.
Silver Mountain was making her comeback from a rest of 5½ months when staying on for fourth behind Bela-Bela in a 1400m sprint-up last month, but Bass-Robinson was happy to make excuses. “She was drawn badly and they went so slowly that she couldn’t make up the ground from the back of the field.”
Silver Mountain, winner of the Cape Fillies Guineas last season, has drawn at No 3 and jockey Grant van Niekerk can slot her in handily so she won’t have as much ground to make up.
Nightingale and Whose That Girl are her other two runners. “Nightingale is doing well and will enjoy the trip but she’s just off the top two fillies ability-wise,” she said. “Whose That Girl has improved a lot and is also very well, but it’ll be tough for her, taking on decent older fillies. If she can sneak a place we’ll be happy.”
Bass-Robinson is also hoping for a good run from Horizon in the Cartier Politician Stakes over 1800m and believes her other runner in the Grade 3 race, Olivander, “could be in the money”.