Cape Town - The outstanding Sean Tarry-trained champion Legal Eagle brought the
house down at a sunny Kenilworth on Saturday when clinching an
emotionally charged historic third consecutive victory - and his most
dramatic yet - in the R1.5 million Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
According to the Sporting Post website, oblivious to the politics and turmoil surrounding his former owners, the
dual SA Horse of the Year showed again what a true champion miler he
is, when digging deep into his reserves, to achieve what must be the
greatest win of his career.
Now unbeaten in 8 starts at a mile, Legal Eagle showed steely
character in the hands of the cucumber cool Anton Marcus to take his
earnings to close on R11 million - and vindicate the confidence of the
big spending Braam van Huyssteen, who bought into him with partners
William Henderson and Hedley McGrath just weeks earlier.
There were some that suggested that buying into a well-established
champion was something of a hollow road to glory. But the
larger-than-life takkie tycoon from George reached a goal achieved by
only a handful of owners - and celebrated his first Grade 1 victory, and an
unlikely plan come together, amidst a festive blue and white sea of
beautiful people on South Africa’s most elegant race day.
Fresh off his Green Point Stakes win five weeks earlier, Legal Eagle
looked a million dollars and has filled out even further into his 6-year-old season. Trainer Sean Tarry confirmed afterwards that his prep had gone
Jumping smartly, Legal Eagle was allowed to settle in third as the
giant-striding Captain America led the way from It Is Written.
Into the home run, Captain America appeared to quietly snatch a
length as Marcus tracked him five lengths in arrears, with Legal Eagle
continuing to gallop powerfully.
The warning light came on at the 250m marker but Legal Eagle answered
the call and he rallied as Marcus showed him the whip and he hauled
Captain America in - but with challenges flying through from all sides.
At the line he had 0.40 lengths to spare over a flying Copper Force,
with the gallant Captain America plugging on for third, ahead of a
flying Sail South. Marinaresco ran a cracking Met prep finishing fifth.
Jockey Anton Marcus, winning his seventh L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate
after his first 25 years ago, was emotional in the post-race interview.
“Thanks to Gaynor Rupert and her team on a wonderful festival. I
anticipated that Captain America would stretch us - I also expected that
the Snaith team would want a good pace. It’s a fine line with Captain
America - you can’t move too late or too early! But I was sitting on a
very special horse. A great job done by Sean Tarry and his team,” said
the top jockey.
An emotional trainer Sean Tarry said that it was probably the least
pressured Queen’s Plate yet - ‘as everything went so smoothly’.
A dapper looking part-owner Van Huyssteen thanked family
members Bianca and Lara and also said a thank-you to Mayfair
Speculators, Derek Brugman and Markus Jooste.
“I believe Sean Tarry is the best trainer in the country. Anton
Marcus never panicked - a master jockey, he timed it well. And to
L’Ormarins, thanks so much for a great weekend of racing,” he said.
Breeder Pippa Mickleburgh said that the win was another great moment
for the Avontuur team and the owners and trainer of a magnificent
“We screamed till the house shook. It’s hard to breed a horse like
this, I’m getting old now and I will be lucky to breed another like
him,” she said with a broad smile.
Legal Eagle, who has won 12 races with 7 places from 21 starts for
stakes of an extraordinary bank of R10 648 875, was bought by Sean Tarry
on behalf of former leading owner Jooste for R425 000 at the
2013 BSA National Yearling Sale.
Bred by Avontuur, he is a son of Durban July winner Greys Inn
(Zabeel) and is out of the six-time winning Young Sensation (National
Emblem) - who was also trained by Sean Tarry..
So history made as only the second horse to win the L’Ormarins
Queen’s Plate three years running - Pocket Power being the king of the
Queens with four straight wins.
Now the Sun Met for Legal Eagle?
This was a tough race and that’s 400m further. Time for reflection!