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DEFENDING champion Legal Eagle (headline photo) has sights firmly set on claiming another L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate crown with the reigning Horse of the Year headlining an 11 horse field for the 2017 renewal at Kenilworth Racecourse on 7 January.

The 1600m contest will have an increased stake of R1.5-million for this year’s event has drawn a Triple Crown winner, a Vodacom Durban July winner, several Grade One winners and a couple of pretenders to the throne.

Legal Eagle, to be ridden by regular jockey Anton Marcus, is one of two confirmed Sean Tarry inmates taking their chances in South Africa’s oldest race with French Navy the mount of Weichong Marwing.

Abashiri will be piloted by Gavin Lerena while Piere Strydom reunites with The Conglomerate in the hopes of repeating their heroics at Greyville when springing a surprise in the July.

Captain America, in the care of Brett Crawford, has his regular jockey Corne Orffer in the irons as does Marinaresco with Grant van Niekerk up.

Van Niekerk and his mount will be hoping to turn the tables after being beaten in the Green Point Stakes (Gr 2) by Legal Eagle earlier this month. This showdown has been one of the talking points of the Summer of Champions and opinions will no doubt once again be split.

Other runners confirmed in the field for the Grade One contest include Sail South, Silicone Valley and Midnite Zone, one of three entries from the Crawford yard.

Fifty Cents was supplemented into the race by the Justin Snaith stable after listed success earlier in December and will be ridden by the in-form Greg Cheyne while bottom weight Bold Rex rounds off the 11-runner affair.

The main event is supplemented by the running of the Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes (Gr 1) where a cracking field of fillies and mares look to enhance their value in the breeding shed.

A total of 12 horses will line for the R1-million contest and with the likes of Bela-Bela and Silver Mountain, one of three entries from the Candice Bass-Robinson stable, among a number of classy sorts for the weight-for-age affair.

Taking place over two days the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival will once again be one of the must-attend social events of the South African summer and tickets for the blue and white themed affair on 6 & 7 January are available here

The opening day is highlighted by the running of the Cartier Sceptre Stakes (Gr 2) as well as the Garden Party with prizes offered for the best-dressed on course. There is also the chance for the Best Dressed woman at the event on the Saturday to win tickets to Glorious Goodwood in the UK.

Race-7 (Turf) R 1,500,000  1600m  16:40    Ref-343 L’ORMARINS QUEEN’S PLATE (WFA) (Grade 1)                                                             Weight For Age

Sc# Horse               Mass   MR       Draw   B  A  T  Jockey                    Trainer

1  LEGAL EAGLE         60.0  123 (123)    3      A  T  A Marcus                  Sean Tarry
2  FRENCH NAVY         60.0  115 (115)    7      A     W Marwing                 Sean Tarry
3  MARINARESCO         60.0  115 (115)   10   B  A     G van Niekerk  Candice Bass-Robinson
4  CAPTAIN AMERICA     60.0  114 (114)    8      A     C Orffer                Brett Crawford
5  ABASHIRI            60.0  113 (113)    1      A     G Lerena                  Mike Azzie
6  SAIL SOUTH          60.0  112 (112)    5      A     R Fourie                  Brett Crawford
7  SILICONE VALLEY     60.0  111 (111)    2      A     D Dillon                  Glen Puller
8  THE CONGLOMERATE    60.0  107 (107)   11      A  T  P Strydom         Joey Ramsden
9  MIDNITE ZONE        60.0  102 (102)    9   B  A  T  M Byleveld            Brett Crawford
10  FIFTY CENTS         60.0   95 ( 95)    4      A     G Cheyne               Justin Snaith
11  BOLD REX            55.0  101 ( 91)    6      A     R Simons                  Mike de Kock

Race-6 (Turf) R 1,000,000  1800m  16:00    Ref-342 MAINE CHANCE FARMS PADDOCK STAKES (WFA) (Grade 1)                                           For Fillies & Mares at Weight For Age

Sc# Horse               Mass   MR       Draw   B  A  T  Jockey                    Trainer

1  BELA-BELA           60.0  107 (106)    6      A     A Marcus                  Justin Snaith
2  SILVER MOUNTAIN     60.0  105 (104)    3      A     G van Niekerk  Candice Bass-Robinson
3  GOODTIME GAL        60.0   99 ( 98)   11      A     G Lerena           Michael Robinson
4  NIGHTINGALE         60.0   99 ( 98)    9      A     A Domeyer          Candice Bass-Robinson
5  CHEVAUCHEE          60.0   98 ( 97)   12      A     G Cheyne                  Brett Crawford
6  STAR EXPRESS        60.0   98 ( 97)    1      A     P Strydom                 Justin Snaith
7  TAHINI              60.0   97 ( 96)    5      A     S Khumalo                 Sean Tarry
8  ICY FIRE            60.0   94 ( 93)    8      A     C Orffer                  Brett Crawford
9  SAFE HARBOUR        54.5  108 ( 96)    2      A     W Marwing            Sean Tarry
10  SAIL                54.5  102 ( 90)   10      A     S Veale                   Dennis Drier
11  FINAL JUDGEMENT     54.5   99 ( 87)    7      A     R Fourie                  Glen Kotzen
12  WHOSE THAT GIRL     54.5   90 ( 78)    4      A     M Byleveld      Candice Bass-Robinson

Photo: Marinaresco, L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.