Jet Dark emerges as Queen’s Plate dark horse victor

L'Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner Jet Dark during the 2021 L'Ormarins Queen's Plate race day at Kenilworth Racecourse on 9 January 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images

Owner Justin Snaith has speculated that this outstanding three year-old may even end up back at his Franschoek home in the stallion shed.

Jet Dark , the only three year-old in the 2021 G1 Queen’s Plate delivered a knockout blow to accomplished older horses in a 1600m epic, just as Gimmethegreenlight had managed for the self-same training outfit, Snaith Racing, when also pitted against the big guns as a three year old in 2012.

After Hurricane Harry had set a steady pace with Cirillo and Silver Operator stalking, it was Rainbow Bridge who made what seemed the decisive move in deep stretch down the centre of the Kenilworth Summer course. However, casting eyes towards the rail it was noticeable that Jet Dark was hurtling through best of all down the inner under Grant van Niekerk, and this momentum carried the Trippi colt past Rainbow Bridge just short of the wire. Short priced favourite, Belgarion stayed on from near the back to get third with Do It Again making progress into the quartet slot.

Wry cynics have given jockeys a dubious reputation for often times being the worst judges – even American Hall of Fame rider, Eddie Arcaro quipped that when retired he wanted to be the bookie taking bets in the Jockey Room!

However, Justin Snaith paid fulsome tribute to Grant van Niekerk, revealing that he only supplemented Jet Dark for the Queen’s Plate on the advice of this emerging, world class jock after a particularly impressive early morning work -out.

“Grant has magic in his hands and can win on anything,” extolled Snaith who decided to enter the bargain 200K BSA 2019 National Yearling Sale graduate in a nick of time, a move fully supported by owners, Nick Jonsson and varsity mate, Tommy Crowe.

Described by Snaith as a “precocious miler who only got beat in the Cape Guineas after being drawn in the bush”, Jet Dark is out of the Jet Master mare, Night Jet and was bred at Drakenstein Stud. Peeking far into the future is tricky even for knowledgeable pedigree buffs – Snaith speculated that this outstanding three year-old from what is shaping up as a potent crop may even end up back at his Franschoek home in the stallion shed!

It was mission fulfilled for Queen Supreme in the Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1) as she doubled up on last year’s romp in this prestigious WFA contest for fillies and mares. The Irish-bred, Exceed and Excel mare stamped her class in a true run 1800m after Heart Stwings had set a torrid pace. What A Winter mare, Clouds Unfold, herself a G1 winner snared three year-old, Princess Calla in a head bobber for second. Another of the new generation fillies, Chat Ching ran an honourable fourth.

Winning horseman, Mike de Kock who is always a major force when bringing entries to G1’s in Cape Town, described Queen Supreme as a quirky customer and was full of praise for his charge who really raised her game when it counted. She sat a perfect rail-hugging trip with jockey Keagan de Melo following the tactical insights conveyed by his brother-in-law to-be, Joburg jock, Callan Murray (who has previously partnered Queen Supreme to multiple victories) precisely.

Clouds Unfold tried her heart out but was out-finished. Still, trainer Candice Bass Robinson was more than satisfied with her brave effort.

Third-placed Princess Calla (by Flower Alley) also met with her trainer, Adam Marcus’ approval, “I was just excited to be part of things, so to be placed is great! She was still green, dropping the bit but this was an excellent effort at only her fifth start.”

17.2 hands giant, Golden Ducat rallied for a most courageous victory in the Glorious Goodwood Premier Trophy (G2). The even money favourite found himself in front down the backstretch at a pedestrian tempo only to be passed by a resolute Sachdev when the race began in earnest and looked sunk with 200m to go as that one surged past.

Golden Ducat is made of stern stuff however and used his bulk and big heart to eke out a slim verdict, thereby repeating a similarly narrow defeat he handed out to rival, Sachdev in the 2020 Cape Derby.

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