L'Ormarins Queen's Plate (Grade 1)
Kenilworth, Turf, 1600m
10 January 2015
Today sees the 154th running of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. South Africa’s oldest racing event was first run in honour of Queen Victoria after she gifted a silver plate and 500 sovereigns to the South African Turf Club. The inaugural race was staged as a heats event in April 1891, with the honours going to Cape Town owner Mr Chiappini’s horse, Dispatch.
The Queen’s Plate has kept its royal ties meticulously. After the death of Queen Victoria, it was run as the King’s Plate during the reigns of Edward VII and George VI and then reverted to being named the Queen’s Plate when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1952. The monarch maintains strong ties with the event, and is represented every year by the British High Commissioner, with The Hon Dr Nicola Brewer doing the honours again today.
A lot has changed since 1891 and the race has grown in stature to become South Africa’s premier weight-for-age contest over 1600m. Weight for Age means that the horses carry set weights, dictated by the official Weight for Age Scale.
These conditions ensure that the race is won by a true champion, a fact borne out by the race’s long and illustrious honour roll. Whether it’s champion horses, champion jockeys or champion trainers you’re after, the Queen’s Plate has them all.
The laurels have been claimed by some of the greatest horses ever to grace South African soil, including the mighty Sea Cottage, William Penn, In Full Flight, Yataghan, Sledgehammer, Politician, Wolf Power, galloping goldmine Empress Club, international superstar London News, champion sire Jet Master, Winter Solstice and Variety Club. Of course, the undisputed King of the Queen’s Plate, with 4 successive trophies, is the unforgettable Pocket Power. Those are very large shoes to fill.
The odds-on favourite is our Vodacom Durban July winner and current Horse of the Year, Legislate, trained by our national champion trainer, Justin Snaith. He has a no 2 draw and showed that he is in devastating form, winning the recent Green Point Stakes in a new course record time. Gauteng’s Summer Cup champion and only the second Triple Crown hero in South African history, Louis The King also has strong designs on Saturday’s silverware. However, if either fluff their lines, the likes of Futura, Tellina and comeback kid Jet Explorer will relish their own opportunity to write history.
The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate was recently voted one of the top 5 race days in the world by the British Telegraph. Who are we to argue. On a day which celebrates the Sport of Kings with 12 races, 135 runners, champion trainers, champion jockeys and champion horses, you can bet on a right royal day out.