Jack Milner: While Legal Eagle will be running in new colours for the first time, the hue of his performance is unlikely to change. The six-year-old son of Greys Inn is by far the best 1600m in the country and it looks highly unlikely his new colours will be lowered at Kenilworth when he contests the R1.5-million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Tarry gave the thumbs up during the week, saying his charge has had the perfect prep and with a good draw and a top jockey “there is nothing to debate”.
It would have been interesting had Edict Of Nantes lined up in this race but the main danger now looks to be Captain America, a runner who has not been able to finish in front of Legal Eagle in eight meetings and will really need things to go his way if he is looking to turn the tables this time. He is a classy performer but he is no match for Legal Eagle.
African Night Sky is the runner many people feel is the pretender to Legal Eagle’s throne but 1600m is not really his game and he will be 10.5kg out on handicap with Tarry’s runner. The Sun Met over 2000m will be more his game.
Hat Puntano won the Grade 2 Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile at Turffontein carrying top weight of 61kg in November, Mike and Adam Azzie’s charge did not disgrace himself when a 0.55-length third behind Romany Prince in a Pinnacle Stakes in December of the same course and distance but while he was running against the big boys in those two races, he will be taking on the giant of SA racing in this event.
A good second is probably the best his connections can hope for.
Also on the card is the Grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes and this race could be a battle between runners owned by the Slack family. They have a massive hand in this race with mother Mary and daughter Jessica owning, and having bred all, of favourite Nother Russia, second favourite Nightingale and Orchid Island.
Jockey arrangements suggest Mike de Kock-trained Nother Russia and Nightingale, trained by Candice Bass-Robinson, re the preferred two while De Kock points out that Orchid Island “does not have her legs tied”. Craig Zackey has ridden Nother Russian in all of her 12 starts for seven wins, three seconds and two third. He loves the five-year-old mare and has built up a great rapport with the daughter of Tiger Ridge.
Anthony Delpech, who won the Grade 1 Majorca Stakes aboard Nightingale last season, is back in the irons on this daughter of Silvano. It should be an interesting battle with the edge going to Nother Russia.
There are many who prefer the three-year-olds but one still does not know how good they are against their elders and this race is sure to provide the answers.