Big race double for Marcus
“He was running on empty”, according to jockey Anton Marcus, but reigning Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle still managed to win the World Sports Betting Green Point Stakes (Grade 2) over 1600m at Kenilworth.
The even-money favourite was pressed to the line by 7-2 chance Marinaresco but stuck fiercely to his guns and posted a narrow win.
Said Marcus: “He needed the run. He’d had enough at the end but I expected that – he’s got a long season ahead. I thought Marinaresco had me. It’s testament to this horse’s courage. He was running on empty at the end but he stuck his head out.”
Marcus had Legal Eagle in midfield as Sail South won the battle for the early lead and set a true pace ahead of Captain America and Helderberg Blue. New Predator was marginally in front of Legal Eagle with Marinaresco just behind and in front of Black Arthur and Abashiri.
Captain America challenged Sail South and led 400m out but Legal Eagle was only just starting to unwind and he floored all bar Marinaresco within a matter of strides. Marinaresco, who gave Legal Eagle first run, got to his girth and that’s where he stayed, with Legal Eagle winning by 0.40 lengths.
Captain America was third, 5.25 lengths further back and clear of Sail South.
Marcus also won the Grade 1 World Sports Betting Cape Fillies Guineas over 1600m aboard Joey Ramsden-trained Just Sensual.
Near the back from a wide draw, she quickened well in the straight to pick off her rivals. Safe Harbour, who led about 200m out, refused to throw in the towel and the two horses crossed the line as one, with Just Sensual getting the verdict by a long neck.
Favourite Querari Falcon led halfway down the straight and stayed on for third ahead of Sail, who was in front through the turn before giving way to She’s A Giver at the top of the straight.
Marcus described his feature-race double for boss Marcus Jooste as “special”. He continued: “I thought Just Sensual was good, but I had my reservations whether she was up to it at this point in her career. But she’s a very smart filly, way above average. (With the wide draw) things weren’t in her favour today but she came through for us.”
It was Just Sensual’s third win from only four career starts and she had plenty of supporters, coming in from 10s in the morning to 11-2 – despite her connections believing the 1600m distance would test her stamina. They intend restricting her to race over a “mile” and less.
The third feature race at Kenilworth was the World Sports Betting Cape Merchants (Grade 2) over 1200m and lightly weighted Search Party, who met his more accomplished rivals slightly under sufferance, made all the running to win a good race.
The Brett Crawford-trained gelding was ridden by jockey Corne Orffer, who said afterwards: “It must have looked like I didn’t know where I wanted to be in that race because he was just loafing in front. But I wasn’t going to play with him with 52kg. He’s a big-actioned horse; he’s got a beautiful stride and I let him use it.
“(Towards the end) he was looking for company, something to help him come and pick it up. I did go across to find something for him to run at. When they found him he quickened up well. He’s a very smart horse.”
He beat Silicone Valley with Captain Alfredo an 18-1 third ahead of Victorious Jay.
Legal Eagle’s trainer Sean Tarry also won the topliner at Turffontein on Saturday when Matador Man beat stablemate Tilbury Fort with the rest in another race in the Listed Secretariat Stakes over 1400m.
There was some drama after the winner flashed past the post because he pecked and apprentice Lyle Hewitson fell off. According to commentator Alistair Cohen, Hewitson was on his feet seconds later.