L’Ormarins Queen’s 2018 success

As is becoming the fashion – in more ways than one – the New Year in Cape Town got off to a racy start with the 157th running of The L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Racing Festival at Kenilworth race course on 5-6 January. Dating back to 1861, the LQP is the continent’s oldest horse race day and last year it gained additional status by becoming the African continent’s first multi-day racing festival in the mould of such famous international racing festivals as Royal Ascot, Qatar Glorious Goodwood and the Kentucky Derby. This year’s event was attended by over 5 000 local and international celebrities, socialites and racing fans, practically all dressed in the event’s traditional blue-and-white theme.


Befitting the occasion, the celebrated Cape Minstrels heralded the start of the Queen’s Plate and the race certainly lived up to expectations. Twelve thoroughbreds left the starting gate and tension mounted as the field turned into the final straight of the 1 600-metre course. With 300 metres to go, SA Horse of the Year, defending champion and 6-4-on favourite Legal Eagle, ridden by Anton Marcus, was lying third a few lengths off powerful front-runner Captain America. Then as the support from the crowd grew louder and louder, Marcus steadily edged his mount forward and in a thrilling photo-finish, Legal Eagle won by a neck from Copper Force and Captain America. With this success, which gives automatic entry into America’s prestigious Breeders’ Cup, Legal Eagle became only the second horse in SA history to earn more than R10 million.


The Franschhoek Motor Museum Handicap was also on Saturday’s card, and the 2 000-metre race was won by Spring Man ridden by C Orffer, from Mister Coin and Silver De Lange.


Bathed in sunshine throughout, the festival village offered many side attractions including numerous enclosures, gourmet stands and three best-dressed competitions, all to a background of live jazz from what seemed like every prominent band in the city. FMM once again joined forces with BMW as co-sponsors of the festival. Apart from providing a fleet of courtesy vehicles, some of the German manufacturer’s models were mixed with those from the FMM collection to showcase some motorised horsepower old, and new. The Style Village’s entrance gate was manned by FMM’s 1953 BMW 502. Inside the village, the first BMW i8 convertible to be imported into the country was on view alongside the FMM 1938 BMW 328, while the museum’s BMW Isetta was displayed in suitable attire. In full view of the grandstand was FMM’s Nelson Mandela 46664 2004 BMW 760Li Security Edition charity car alongside two representatives of BMW’s Rolls-Royce division, a 1928 Phantom 1 and 1935 20/25.


The best-dressed lady award went to Mala Bryan, and the best-dressed gentleman turned out to be Andrew Matsose. Nosipho Dipela was judged to be the lady with the best hat.


“Starting with Friday’s garden party followed by Saturday’s excellent race card and entertainment, guests were reminded once again why the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Racing Festival is regarded as one of the top five horseracing festivals in the world,” said LQP Racing Festival Coordinator, Katherine Gray.