IMO, the two-day L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate racing festival at Kenilworth, which kicks off on Friday, has this year become a North-South derby, especially when it comes to the fairer sex, writes Danie Toerien.
While the Queens Plate on Saturday is the main race of the festival, a lot of emphasis will be on the ladies, with six of the eight races on Friday reserved for fillies and mares.
The headline event for the gals is the Grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes over 1800m, scheduled to be decided at 15:20 on Saturday, where Equus Horse Of The Year, Summer Pudding, makes her Cape Town debut.
It is obvious that many in the Cape racing fraternity still doubt this unbeaten Silvano filly’s ability, despite her nine successive wins, including a resounding victory by 2.5 lengths in the WSB Summer Cup last time out.
“Summer Pudding is both adaptable and seriously talented, yet hard to assess accurately as she keeps on defeating lesser opposition under a range of varying circumstances, though not by commanding margins,” reads a press release compiled by Cape Racing.
“Her admirable Summer Cup victory from a wide draw when lumping 59kg’s was arguably her career best. However, as virtually the entire field, barring very game runner-up Running Brave, flopped badly in the test of class/stamina at altitude it’s still hard to peg her true ability with certainty.”
“This race should answer whether Paul Peter’s filly is up to beating Queen Supreme or Clouds Unfold. The former’s tremendous run to Hawwaam in the Horse Chestnut in June 2020 makes her a particularly formidable threat and Mike de Kock’s defending champ will not relinquish her Paddock Stakes crown without a major scuffle.”
One can only hope that the Paddock Stakes is run in a less hostile manner than the “welcoming note” issued by Cape Racing to promote this glorious racing festival.
Oh, and there’s more.
It seems the Cape Club has decided to “throw in new generation representatives like Princess Calla, Chat Ching and Dazzling Sun” just to make the whole affair “even more interesting”.
Talk about respect!
Be that as it may, come Saturday, Summer Pudding will not only be representing the Paul Peter stable, she will also be flying the Highveld flag in what is sure to be cracker.
The first day’s action is headlined by the Grade 2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes for fillies and mares over 1200m.
Sean Tarry-trained Celtic Sea, the lone Highveld raider in the field, is the overwhelming favourite, having clocked up no less than 11 career victories from 25 runs, amassing more than R3-million in stakes.
She is no stranger to Kenilworth, with two wins, a second and a third place from four runs.
A three-time Grade 1 winner, she is probably nearing the end of her racing career and is the only five-year-old in the race.
A number of really talented Cape-based three- and four-year-old fillies get the opportunity to challenge this superstar on the day, including Roll In The Hay, Pretty Young Thing, Trickster, Hello Winter Hello, and Veronica Mars.
At least she is treated with the respect she deserves, described as a runner who “thrives physically in the Cape Summer” and who is “expected to justify short odds”.