Trainer Justin Snaith said yesterday that everything had gone to plan with Ebony Flyer’s preparation for Saturday’s Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth and her work had been “exceptional”.
The huge Jet Master filly, who stands at over 17 hands, will attempt to become the first ever three-year-old filly to win the race that celebrates its 150th anniversary on Saturday.
She had her final serious gallop at Kenilworth last week and jockey Felix Coetzee had been “very impressed”.
“She is doing well,” said Snaith. “You get good horses and very good horses and she’s very good.”
She drew 13, which was a blow and Snaith said, “It wasn’t what I was hoping for. She’s a young filly taking on the best in the country and two of them have drawn one and two. A punter when he sees draw 13 usually overlooks the horse, that’s the immediate feeling you get. But racing isn’t meant to be fair and we will do what we have to do. I haven’t put her in this race to ruin her career, we believe we can win. She is a horse that will do anything you ask of her. She has an off button, an on button and a turbo boost button and whatever Felix asks her to do, whether it is to be at the front or the back, she will do.”
Snaith said that Ebony Flyer had come on “lengths” since her win in the Grade 1 Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas and compared her favourably with some of the best fillies he had ever trained.
“She is very different to Dancer’s Daughter. She has the combination of Sparkling Gem’s size and power and Dancer’s Daughter’s turn of foot. She has an exceptional temperament unlike Dancer’s Daughter who just wanted to get out there and race. But like Dancer’s Daughter, Ebony Flyer gets better and better with every race. She seems to have endless talent.”
Snaith has not had many runners in the Queen’s Plate before, but rated this as one of the strongest line ups he had encountered in any of his career races.
“You have the best older horse, the champion Pocket Power. Past Master is the best up and coming horse in the country and has huge potential. Mother Russia is the best older filly and then there is Ebony Flyer. It could be the hottest Queen’s Plate yet.”
Snaith also has two runners in the Grade 1 TBA Paddock Stakes, Emerald Cove and We Three.
Felix Coetzee has chosen to ride Emerald Cove, but Snaith said, “It’s too close to call between them. Emerald Cove put up the most impressive workout this week of any of my runners on Saturday, but the one hiccup with her is whether she will stay. Her mother stayed so I think she should.”
Snaith questioned whether either of his Paddock Stakes contenders were “Grade 1 winning material”, but added, “Nothing really stands out in the race. Mike Bass and Mike de Kock’s horses will be the ones to beat, while A Daughter’s Legacy is also very highly rated.”
Snaith’s Solo Traveller, winner of the Grade 1 Bloodstock SA Cape Guineas, runs in the Listed Politician Stakes over 1800m, a conditions race for three-year-olds. He carries joint top weight of 58kg and has a fine draw of two. Bernard Fayd’herbe keeps the ride.
Snaith said, “Solo Traveller is doing exceptionally well and is at his best. He will take some beating and this should be a nice build up for his main aim, which is the Investec Cape Derby.”
Snaith rated the second race, the Protea Juvenile Plate, where he runs Soweto Slew, Gimmethegreenlight and Pink Martini, as his best chance on the day of having a winner.
“All three of them have been set up for this race,” he said. He regarded Soweto Slew as the one to beat.
He felt he had a very strong coupling in the fourth race, a Fillies and Mares Handicap over 1400m, with Townsend, Peonie Paradise, Are We There Yet and Danish Diva.
Coetzee has chosen to ride Danish Diva here, but Snaith could not separate them.
Snaith added, “Wing Man will run well in the third, last time was too far for him.”