Nicci Garner: The expected match race between champion Legal Eagle and up-and-coming Marinaresco in last Saturday’s R1.5-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate did not materialise, with the young pretender only managing fourth.
However, Marinaresco’s trainer Candice Bass-Robinson was happy to excuse the run, saying: “The draw killed us. He got too far back and had too much ground to make up over the ‘mile’. He was 15 lengths off pacemaker Midnite Zone and it’s impossible to make up all that ground.”
Marinaresco was drawn No 10 of the 11 runners and jockey Grant van Niekerk dropped him out to second last. The four-year-old Silvano gelding made up quite a bit of ground in the straight before keeping on in the final 100m. He was eventually beaten 3.30 lengths by the winner, with Captain America and Sail South, who ran on from last, also ahead of him.
“I don’t think we would have beaten Legal Eagle, who is a much better horse than we are over 1600m, but nothing really worked out for us,” she said.
Legal Eagle and Marinaresco will cross swords again in the R5-million Sun Met this month and Bass-Robinson is “hoping it’ll be a different story”.
Marinaresco will have a 0.5kg advantage over his rival in that race and his trainer said: “The 2000m of the Met is also a better distance for Marinaresco. But it’ll depend on the draw. My horse doesn’t have the gate speed to overcome a bad draw, to go up and race handily. So we’ll need a bit of luck when the ballots are done on 19 January.”
The Met is far from a two-horse race, though, according to Bass-Robinson, who believes there is a third big contender for top honours – Brett Crawford-trained four-year-old Whisky Baron, who will get 2kg from Marinaresco. “He looks to be the up-and-coming horse,” she said. “It’ll be an interesting race”.
She had no excuses for Silver Mountain and Nightingale running third and fourth respectively behind Bela-Bela in the R1-million Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes over 1800m, saying: “They both ran as best they could. They had every chance.”
She did, however, comment: “Bela-Bela is more effective than Silver Mountain over 1800m. It might have been a bit different over 1600m.”
Silver Mountain and Nightingale are going for the R1-million Klawervlei Majorca Stakes (Grade 1) over 1600m at Kenilworth on Met Day.
“Silver Mountain drew 29 out of 30 entries, which is a great start!” the trainer exclaimed sarcastically. “I’m just hoping we don’t get a big field because she’ll probably start favourite.
“Nightingale is also not well drawn but the race is a touch on the sharp side for her so I’m not expecting fireworks. But she will be competitive. There’s nothing else for her at the moment, so she must take her chances.”
Horizon won the 1800m Politician Stakes for the stable, with stablemate Ollivander third. “We had a good day’s racing – I’m pleased with all their runs,” said Bass-Robinson, who added that both Horizon (also entered in the $500,000 CTS 1600) and Ollivander would now head into the R1-million Investec Cape Derby on Met Day.
“Horizon is a lovely horse who drew No 1 in the Derby, so he’ll definitely run. Ollivander needs to strengthen a bit more but might as well take his chances in the Derby, even though he’s drawn wide. He’ll be a better horse in a couple of months’ time and is one to watch in the winter series.”