The word “blockbuster” is mainly used to describe movies, but it is unquestionably applicable to Saturday's R1.5m L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth when an all-star cast will face the starter in this historic grade 1 race.
Blockbuster was the word used for large bombs dropped in World War 2 that could literally destroy an entire city block.
The horse most pundits — and many punters — are expecting to destroy the field in Saturday’s 1,600m race is Mike de Kock’s rated four-year-old Hawwaam.
A son of Silvano, Hawwaam has won his last six starts and victory would provide his jockey Anton Marcus with his seventh Queen’s Plate success this century.
The big punters are ready to put their money down, but this does not worry Gauteng bookmaker Lance Michael. He said on Thursday: “I think Hawwaam is beatable — in fact I prefer his stablemate Soqrat.”
Michael's price on the favourite is 19-20 with Soqrat at 5-1 and 6-1 available about Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge and Vardy.
Vardy did this column a turn with his 7-1 win in the Green Point Stakes and trainer Adam Marcus’s charge can put us in the money once again. The suggestion is to rove Vardy in the exacta with Hawwaam, Soqrat and Rainbow Bridge.
Why not with the dual Durban July hero some may ask? The reason is that the five-year-old was found to be coughing after the Green Point and had to be put on antibiotics. If Justin Snaith has got him back to his best for a second win in this race, it will be a great feat of training.
De Kock has stated that Soqrat has matured over the past six months and is expecting a big run from the Aussie-bred colt. It was not a memorable 2019 for Callan Murray so he would dearly love to start the New Year by bagging the R937,500 first prize.
Though Gavin Lerena has yet to win on Rainbow Bridge, he will know Eric Sands will have his mount cherryripe and hope, once again, to beat Soqrat. That success came in the 1,800m Champions Cup, but many believe Saturday's trip is Soqrat’s optimum distance.
Will 24-year-old Craig Zackey, who rides Vardy, feel intimidated in this big league, similar to the Protea debutantes against Ben Stokes in the second Test at Newlands?
The answer is no as Zackey has already won five grade 1 races, yet he will be aware that he will have to prevent the gelding from hanging as happened in the Green Point Stakes. The stipes will be watching closely for any interference.
One World’s form figures — four wins from his past six starts — is a testimony to the talent of trainer Vaughan Marshall who can be likened to Alex Ferguson for staying at the top of his sport for so long. Nevertheless, one feels the colt may have to settle for a minor placing.
There are some outstanding supporting races and Murray — whatever his fate on Soqrat — must surely go close on Irish-bred Queen Supreme in the grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes.
Namaqualand — a son of Trippi bred by Drakenstein Stud and owned by Chris van Niekerk — appeals as the likely winner of the third race after a promising debut at Turffontein in October.
Punters could try a place four-timer including Sean Tarry's colt with Charles (race five), Vardy (race seven) and another Vaughan Marshall inmate Path Of Choice in race nine.
KENILWORTH SELECTIONS (Saturday)
- Rainbow Bridge
- Queen Supreme
- Front And Centre
- Miyabi Gold
- Crome Yellow
- Cat Daddy
- Gimme One Night
- Roy Had Enough
QUEEN'S PLATE BETTING
(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michael)
6-1 Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge, Vardy
14-1 One World