Once again Cape Town kicked off a New Year in high style with the running of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (LQP) at Kenilworth Racecourse on 9 January. Hot summer weather favoured a sell-out crowd who attended South Africa’s leading weight-for-age horse race, which brought together the country’s top 16 thoroughbreds competing for a R1 million purse. This year‘s race was the 155th running of the event and sponsored for the 11th time in succession by L’Ormarins. Over 5 000 attendees kept with tradition by donning their finest blue-and-white fashions to help create a colourful setting to the activities both on and off the track, the latter including the LQP prop merry go-round.

According to LQP’s Coordinator Katherine Gray, the internationally-recognized L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate is considered to be the Cape’s most prestigious horse racing and social occasion. Of the numerous other races on the days’ card, as well as the LQP, the Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes (Grade 1) are the only South African races that allow their winners entry into the elite Breeders’ Cup Mile in the USA, as well as the Glorious Goodwood Peninsula Stakes (Grade 2) in the UK. The latter is a ‘swop’ with Goodwood’s revered race, with LQP also having its own race run at Glorious Goodwood annually.

But the LQP is the premier event and spectators were on edge when the field bolted from the starting gate on the season-opening 1 600-metre flat race. Just over half way, champion jockey Anton Marcus thrilled punters when he edged outsider Legal Eagle into the lead and comfortably held on to win the prestigious race by one-and-a-half lengths from Legislate and Noah From Goa. Legal Eagle is owned by Markus and Ingrid Jooste and trained by Sean Tarry.

As has become the custom, FMM was an integral part of the occasion with a display of some thoroughbreds from its own stable – but four-wheeled rather than four-legged… This year the museum joined forces with BMW SA – which will be celebrating its centenary in March – to put on an impressive display of horseless carriages that attracted much attention from both the regular racegoers and the many fashionistas. The model line-up from FMM’s collection began with a 1926 Austin 7, the likes of which formed the basis of BMW’s first car, called the Dixie. Also exhibited was a 1938 BMW 328, 1953 BMW 502, Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Mandela Day School Library Project 760iL Security and the BMW-powered McLaren F1 road car designed by South African Gordon Murray. As part of the BMW Group, Rolls-Royce was represented by a majestic 1928 Phantom 1. By contrast to these classics, BMW displayed some of its latest range of cars with the main focus on the new 7 Series.

Among the international celebrities and punters who were present was ex-F1 team boss and grand prix pundit Eddie Jordan, and managing partner of Coys of London, BBC Channel 5 Classic Car Show presenter and FMM’s international consultant Chris Routledge. Other sporting personalities included, from the UK, legendary professional jockey Lester Piggott and racehorse trainers William Haggas and Ed Dunlop, SA’s surfing star Jordy Smith with his wife Lyndall and ex-Kaiser Chiefs goalscoring ace Maps Maponyane. Also amongst the celebrity guests were media personalities Nomzamo Mbatha and Jen Su, singer Danny K and wife Lisa Koppel, actress and TV star Minnie Dlamini and model/TV presenter and 2002 Miss South Africa Cindy Nell along with John Ferguson.

Fashion also forms a highlight of the day’s proceedings and prizes were sponsored by leading accessory manufaturer Cartier. The Best Dressed Lady prize was won by Naledi Mabuso, who will be flown to the Glorious Goodwood event in August. Jorge Mavova was voted Best Dressed Man and received a Cartier wallet, while the Best Hat winner was Carolyn Steyn whose prize included a Cartier bag. With so many stylish ensembles around, selecting the winners was a challenge for the judging panel, which comprised of last year’s Best Dressed Lady Deborah Calmeyer, internationally-renowned fashion design duo Errol and Gloria Arendz, the designer of luxury Okapi handbags Hanneli Rupert (daughter of Johann and Gaynor Rupert), and style icon and official LQP spokesperson Bonang Matheba.

Back on the course, the museum sponsored Race 11, the Franschhoek Motor Museum MR 85 Handicap over 1 600 metres, which was won by Vilakazi, ridden by C Orffer and trained by Brett Crawford. After the dust had settled on track, the action moved to the stylish Stud Club where top SA DJ, music producer and radio presenter Euphonik headlined an exhilarating after-party, which went well into the night. Certainly a great day at the races, its success proven by #LQP2016 being the country’s number one trending hash tag over the weekend. MM


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