HISTORY was made on Friday afternoon as the first ever L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival got under way at Kenilworth.
The opening day provided the perfect curtain-raiser to South Africa’s oldest thoroughbred horserace with Saturday’s action set to be highlighted by the 156th running of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
While soothing jazz sounds filled the venue, those in the Garden Party were treated to the perfect afternoon as they took in the racing action in style and got a taste of what is to come ahead of Saturday’s proceedings.
The first set of prizes for the Best Dressed as well as Best Hat were also handed out with more to follow throughout the Festival including the chance to win a trip to Glorious Goodwood in the UK.
The afternoon’s top honour belonged to the Candice Bass-Robinson stable as Live Life surged home late to claim the Cartier Sceptre Stakes (Gr 2) under Grant van Niekerk for a result that may provide them with confidence heading into the second day.
They will pair up with a lively contender in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate in the form of Marinaresco.
“She’s very classy. I didn’t think she had a chance. She’s really produced the result in a very big way,” Van Niekerk said of his Cartier Sceptre Stakes winning mount before sharing his thoughts on the two days of racing.
“I’m really grateful to ride on days like this,” he said.
The supporting feature on the day was won by Epona as the three-year-old filly came home two lengths clear of the field in the listed Ardmore Jamaica Handicap over 2000m to provide jockey Greg Cheyne and trainer Joey Ramsden with success.
That was Cheyne’s third winner on the day and the second for Ramsden and both were full of praise for the festival feel that the sponsors have brought to one of the biggest events on South Africa’s social calendar.
“All the best to L’Ormarins for the weekend. It’s an exciting weekend for us and it’s good to be among the winners. It’s nice to have a couple on big days like this,” said Cheyne.
“What a great thing to do as far as a two-day meeting and I hope it goes from strength to strength,” Ramsden said of the initiative.
Saturday’s Scottsville meeting has been postponed to Monday, 9 January due to rain.