LEGAL Eagle secured his Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate double in thrilling style at Kenilworth on Saturday, sweeping home 2.25-lengths clear of Captain America in a time of 97,73s, almost 2s faster than the time he clocked last year.
Mayfair Speculators’ sparingly raced champion will now head for the Sun Met on 28 January and there will be plenty of confidence in trainer Sean Tarry’s camp, because Legal Eagle seems to be getting better still. If he improves another length or two going into the Met, his rivals will be racing for second.
Legal Eagle’s younger arch-rival Marinaresco finished 3.3-lengths behind him in fourth, suffering interference down the straight. He is bound to get closer to Legal Eagle on Met day, but with all the cards now on the table, Mayfair’s Markus Jooste will probably be clearing his diary ahead of Jan 28 – his son Michael and racing manager Derek Brugman led Legal Eagle into the Queen’s Plate winner’s enclosure, in his absence.
Jockey Anton Marcus, who will take Legal Eagle’s reins on Met day to try and go one better on last year, commented: “I’m elated, it is special to win the Queen’s Plate for Markus for the second year running, he has been unwavering in his support.
“Horses like Legal Eagle make us look good. He’s very good and he’s five-from-five over a mile. I’ve always been more scared of Marinaresco over a mile than over 2000m, so this win gives me confidence. Legal Eagle has no stamina doubts. He won the Derby over 2450m at the tough Turrffontein track going away.”
Tarry thanked his team, headed by Monique Mansour, for assisting in Legal Eagle’s preparation. The reigning Horse Of The Year pocketed a further R937 500 for his efforts and has taken Tarry beyond the R12-million mark, halfway through the 2016/17 season and well on his way to this third successive National Trainers’ Title.
“I didn’t think Legal Eagle’s last gallop was up to scratch, but Anton was impressed and that set my mind at ease. We’re excited for what lies ahead,” said Tarry.
What lies ahead after the Met could be November’s Breeders’ Cup in the USA, for which Legal Eagle will receive another automatic invitation. Brugman said this would be a consideration, depending on logistics.
Bred by Avontuur Stud, Legal Eagle is a son of the wonderful Zabeel stallion Grey’s Inn, who stands in the Karoo at Graeme Koster’s Rosedene Stud.