Bonang Matheba promoting a previous build-up to the Queen's Plate.
Success on big days gives a trainer the edge over rivals in terms of attracting wealthy clients. Rich people love the spotlight, holding trophies aloft and giving happy interviews to the media.
This weekend’s L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival in Cape Town is a perfect example of the single-mindedness of top trainers in pursuing silverware (and sometimes gold).
Perennial adversaries Mike de Kock and Justin Snaith butt heads in most of the feature races on the Friday and Saturday programmes, while another giant, Brett Crawford, looks to muscle in on the Kenilworth glamour.
Other leading trainers – like Glen Kotzen, Candice Bass-Robinson, Sean Tarry and Vaughan Marshall – won’t simply roll over, but this year’s “Big Three” appear to hold the strongest hands and punters might be wise to focus on them.
De Kock’s coupling in the main event, the Grade 1 Queen’s Plate over 1600m on Saturday, is a fearsome prospect for the opposition.
The Joburg trainer’s four-year-old colt Hawwaam, the country’s current darling having won eight of his nine starts, is odds-on for the venerable contest – and with master jockey Anton Marcus jumping him from the No 1 gate there can be few quibbles about the price.
However, he has never clashed in public with stablemate Soqrat, an Aussie import who has never run a bad race in accumulating seven wins from 15 starts. The latter’s name might be drowned out in the Hawwaam hubbub, but he is arguably as smart a racehorse and his ante-post odds of 6-1 look fantastic value.
Snaith’s challenge comes in the formidable form of Do It Again, South Africa’s Horse of the Year and the defending champion.
After a rough passage in his Green Point Stakes warm-up and a small health hiccup, this titan of the turf has drifted out to 13-2. But, of course, we can never discount the mastery of the Snaith family and no-one would be surprised to see this guy steal the glory.
Rainbow Bridge, trained by Eric Sands, and Vardy, from Adam Marcus’s thrusting yard, make up a competitive quintet to conjure with, while Crawford’s Undercover Agent is the dark horse.
Crawford and De Kock top the boards for the other Grade 1 on the card, the weight-for-age Paddock Stakes for fillies and mares, with Front And Centre and Queen Supreme respectively.
Snaith lurks with Miyabi Gold and Silvano’s Pride.
Snaith has another two prongs in the Grade 2 Peninsula Handicap: Belgarion and Nexus, with Crawford’s stout galloper Charles the main danger.
It’s a festival of big guns – in more ways than one.
13-2 Do It Again, Vardy, Rainbow Bridge
18-1 One World
30-1 Twist Of Fate
35-1 Undercover Agent
75-1 Pack Leader
125-1 Crown Towers
14-10 Front And Centre
2-1 Queen Supreme
9-1 Miyabi Gold
13-1 Silvano’s Pride
15-1 Santa Clara
22-1 Driving Miss Daisy
35-1 and upwards the others.
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