Jet Dark on Saturday proved once again that three-year-olds can win the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Justin Snaith sent out four of the eight runners and it was expected that Belgarion and Do It Again were the best of the quartet. But it was Trippi colt Jet Dark who upended the more fancied runner to beat Rainbow Bridge by 0.75 lengths.
Third place went to Belgarion, who was the same distance behind Rainbow Bridge, with fourth place going to Do It Again.
The winner was ridden by Grant van Niekerk.
As expected, Hurricane Harry went out to make the pace but he did not go all that fast and that resulted in quite a bunched up field. Cirillo sat second with Jet Dark in fourth with Rainbow Bridge on his outside. The last three were Belgarion, Sovereign Spirit and Do It Again.
In the straight, while Rainbow Bridge moved up in the centre, Van Niekerk got a dream run down the inside rail and Jet Dark slipped through to challenge for the lead. That was when the 5kg weight-for-age advantage kicked in and enabled Jet Dark to get the measure of Rainbow Bridge.
“At first I gave myself not much of a chance in this field,” said Van Niekerk. “We just wanted to see how good he was. We did think he’s a really nice horse but not quite ready to take on the big boys yet, but he proved us wrong today.
“The pace was hot early on but then Robert (Khathi on Hurricane Harry) brought it back a bit and my horse was tugging. I didn’t think I would win from there but clearly, this horse is very good.
“I always felt our three-year-olds, fillies and colts, were really good this year and he proved it.”
Jet Dark is by Trippi out of a Jet Master mare, Night Dark, and was bred by Drakenstein who sponsored the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival.
During the week, Snaith said: “We really don’t want a slow pace, because it won’t suit our best runners. If, for some reason, the pace is slow, then Jet Dark will come into play, He is in my opinion the fastest horse by far in the field.”
He was spot on.
Earlier, Queen Supreme completed a Grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes over 1800m double at Kenilworth.
Trained by Mike de Kock and ridden by Keagan de Melo, the five-year-old mare took the lead in the final 300m and eased away from the opposition to beat Clouds Unfold by 2.25 lengths.
Third and fourth places went to the two three-year-olds in the field, Princess Calla and Chat Ching respectively.
The unbeaten run of Summer Pudding sadly came to an end. She came under pressure with 400m to run and ended up in seventh place, 4.95 lengths behind the winner.
However, it was later announced on course that following a scope by the course vet, she was found to have mucus in the trachea.