Fri, Oct 12, 12:53pm by Staff Writer
After months of wheeling and dealing, and slot holder negotiations The Everest is finally here. The rail will be in the true position and with rain continuing during the week, the track is looking to be in the heavy range.
A field of 12 will line up in the $13-million feature, ten of those Group 1 winners.
Anthony Freedman has two runners in the race and while many questioned the decision of their slot holders early in the piece, they sit near the top of the markets in an open race. Santa Ana Lane ($8) has always been a horse of promise but he’s really come into his own of late with three wins from his last four starts, two of those wins at G1 level and his most recent victory in G2 grade over this track and distance. Stable mate Shoals ($7.50) is a multiple Group 1 winner and although all her G1s were in fillies and/or mares garde, she showed she’s more than up to this with a third and second at her two runs this prep – her latest when only 0.2L behind Santa Ana Lane.
A couple of weeks ago Kris Lees was without a runner in The Everest but he now lines up with three. In Her Time ($11) was transferred to his stables from suspended trainer Benjamin Smith but it was a short walk across the road for the mare and her preparation wasn’t altered. She resumed with a third to the Freedman pair and she did win the ‘consolation’ race last year in better time than last year’s Everest. Le Romain ($21) is a very good horse who has raced in black-type races for all but two of his career starts – both which he won. He was always going to run in a 1200m race on this day according to his trainer, so he’s certainly in the mix while the third of the Lees trio, Graff ($17) is the first 3YO male to run in this race, two 3YO fillies running in it last year.
Vega Magic ($7) probably should have won this race last year and connections suggest he’s going as well as he was 12-months ago. The track could be a query given his failure in the G1 Goodwood (1200m) was put down to a ‘shifty’ surface but at his best he’d be hard to hold out.
Redzel ($7) did win the inaugural running of The Everest which was in the midst of a sequence of wins that had him as ‘Australia’s best sprinter’ at the time. He’s not going as well as then and while his last run was a touch disappointing, that was off a minor setback and Snowden horses can bounce back quickly. He’s drawn barrier one for Saturday and the stable are confident he’ll be 100% right on the day.
Trapeze Artist’s ($7) stud career was put on hold by his owner to run in this race and it would be an emotional victory for his connections if the 4YO were to salute. He’s third-up, and he was a runaway winner of last year’s G1 Golden Rose (1400m) when third-up.
There was so much conjecture about the Darren Weir-trained Nature Strip getting a run and while he eventually did get a slot, he lost it meaning the master trainer is left only with Brave Smash ($13). And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, given he was one that got a slot early and Weir has been able to tailor a preparation around this day. He was third in this race last year and he’s sure to be tuned to the minute, and interestingly he’s running under the ‘Waller’ slot putting the two giants of Australian racing together.
Viddora ($15) secured her slot after a sizzling win in the Group 1 Moir (1000m) – the race in which Nature Strip’s fate was sealed – and she is certainly worthy of her spot. The Moir was her second G1 win, her first being in last year’s Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in Perth.
US Navy Flag ($9) is almost the forgotten horse of the field, and in a race devoid of speed – and from barrier three – he could be the one that sets the tempo. A winner of five from 16, he’s first-up since his G1 July Cup (1207m) win at Newmarket in England.
There was plenty of talk early on in the piece about Kementari getting a slot but Godolphin went down another path with the 4YO, and while Home of the Brave made the final 12 he was an early scratching and was replaced by stable mate Osborne Bulls ($17) – one of the six declared emergencies. A winner of eight from 12 and with five wins over the 1200m, he’s only missed the placings once in his career and that was last start when beaten 1.3L in the Group 1 Rupert Clarke (1400m).
Suggested Bet: The main race looks a bit of a lottery with any of the field capable of winning so looking elsewhere for a win and hopefully that can be Cristobal ($3.10, race 3, number 1). She was good behind Gem Song and Royal Celebration last start and that form should be good enough here. She does have to carry top weight and the track conditions – and track pattern – will be an issue but she has a win over Miss Fabulass at her only attempt on a rain affected track, so she can notch up her second career win here.
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