The Star Early Edition

Legal Eagle favoured for Met

- MICHAEL CLOWER The legendary Lester Piggott, now 80, was among the crowd which was the biggest for Queen’s Plate day since Gaynor Rupert began her efforts to restore the event to its glory days of old.

LEGAL Eagle is expected to emerge as a warm favourite for the J& B Met when the market undergoes a major shake-up this morning following his decisive win over a trip widely considered too short for him in Saturday’s L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.

Some bookmakers were yesterday talking about the four-year-old shortening to as low as 2-1 while previous favourite Futura goes for a friendless walk to 5-1 or more as punters cast major doubts about his ability to repeat last year’s win. Sean Tarry, speaking immediatel­y after Saturday’s triumph, said: “Legal Eagle has gone from strength to strength and his five months off the racecourse has really done him well. I was very confident in his preparatio­n and in his ability but not of beating the likes of Futura over a mile. It was a fantastic performanc­e.”

Markus Jooste’s Avontuurbr­ed Greys Inn gelding was a first Queen’s Plate for Tarry but the champion trainer won the 2005 Met with Alastor. He also has last year’s second Gold Onyx in the January 30 spectacula­r as well as French Navy who missed his run in Saturday’s London News Stakes when the last four Turffontei­n races were abandoned. Tarry indicated that the SA Classic winner is now doubtful for the Met unless owner Chris van Niekerk insists. However Justin Snaith was far from dishearten­ed about the Met prospects of runnerup Legislate and fifth-placed Futura, reasoning: “Legislate hadn’t run this season and he will come on from this as will Futura who had only had one race this term.” But Noah From Goa (third) is unlikely to take advantage of today’s final supplement­ary stage or, for that matter, Wednesday’s Investec Cape Derby equivalent. Matthew de Kock said: “We will see how he pulls up and what my Dad says but he is probably limited to a mile.”

Captain America, who ran on take fourth after being squeezed at the start, came back minus his right front shoe, while the course vet reported Act Of War (sixth) coughing and Power King (last) in mild post-race distress. Light The Lights’ strong run to get up close home under Stuart Randolph in the Glorious Goodwood Peninsula Handicap filled Glen Kotzen with Met hope. “This is a different horse since we cut him,” said the Woodhill trainer. “We had to teach him to settle and we sprinted him. Now it has all come together.” Geoff Woodruff was just as taken with the third of Deo Juvente who chased home long-time leader Milton, saying: “We were never going to beat the winner but it was a super run from a bad draw and the 2 000m of the Met will be that little bit more up his street.” The Conglomera­te, backed from 6-1 to 4-1 favourite, came in with only one behind him and the vet reported him not striding out.

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