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Cape Town - Punters and fashionistas are headed for Kenilworth Racecourse on Saturday when 16 of South Africa’s top racehorses line up for the prestigious L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate event.
In its 152nd year, the race has become a not-to-be missed fixture on race and social calendars.
And while the strict blue and white colour palette, and big prizes for the best dressed and best hat will ensure that Cape Town’s beautiful come out to play, all eyes will be on one tall, dark and handsome fellow – race favourite Variety Club.
Joey Ramsden, Variety Club’s trainer, said the four-year-old chestnut colt was “the reigning horse of the year”, and in great form.
However, Variety Club has been drawn very wide in the race, which could be a disadvantage, he said.
“Luckily he’s very fast out of the gates, but his draw could be a distinct disadvantage.”
Ramsden also has a second horse, Bravura, entered. He said Bravura was well-prepared, with “an amazing record”. “People have forgotten about him a bit, but he’s been drawn well and looks fantastic.”
Other big names to look out for on the day are Mike Bass-trained What a Winter, and last year’s Durban July winner Pomodoro.
Bass said of What a Winter: “He is certainly worthy of entry in a race like this, and if he gets some luck in the running he will be running on strongly at them, and I think he will be a big factor. His 10 draw does play against him here.”
Trainer Sean Tarry said of his horse Pomodoro: “He has had a great prep, and we have really benefited from the draw (at seven). Pomodoro travelled exceptionally well and, while the Met is his main mission, I am expecting him to run very well. While Variety Club is the horse we all have to beat, he does have a poor draw, which won’t make things easy for him. Pomodoro should be right there in the finish.”
Not to be discounted is Brett Crawford-trained Jackson, who was tipped to be the 2012 Durban July favourite but baffled many when he failed to place in the top three.
The prize money for the winning horse is R1 million, and for the first time this year’s winner will also receive entry into the world famous Breeders’ Cup Mile in the US.
Judges for the best-dressed and best hat awards are Malcolm Kluk, Christiaan du Toit of KLûK CGDT, Elana Afrika, Catherine Moore, Shashi Naidoo and The Little Hattery’s Kerry Hillier and Dominik Marszalek.
Afrika said that she would be looking for people who were vibrant, and who have style “not just in their clothes but in their attitude”.
“We will be scouting the crowds for fashions that reflect old-world glamour, timeless style and understated chic in blue and white elegance,” said fashion designer Malcolm Kluk, of KLûK CGDT.
The winner of the best-dressed title will win a R10 000 dress designed by Errol Arendz, as well as L’Ormarins and Estee Lauder product hampers.
And once the races are over, the party starts with 5fm DJ Fresh and internationally acclaimed British DJ Lora, whose fan base includes Sir Paul McCartney, Pete Tong and Kim Kardashian.