Well, it's finally here. The big dream of Racing NSW has come to fruition. It might not have attracted any overseas runners this year, yet it is as deep a field as you could possibly get at 1200m from the local contingent. From a UK perspective, there's been plenty of media interest in this part of the world, which can only be good for the future. Locally, the argument that it's been the most hyped race ever in Sydney could be rebutted with "so why haven't they been doing this in the autumn for the past 50 years?", and "Of course it has, they've written blank cheques galore to pay for it!". It's when the excitement isn't self-seeded that it really counts.
The proof will be in the pudding. The Pegasus in the US, the race which inspired this one, seems to be in a bit of trouble (although you have to take the comments from the controversial owner of California Chrome with a grain of salt), so hopefully they've learned lessons and planned this one a bit better. At least one thing's a big improvement on the Sydney autumn features - the track won't be a swamp for a change!
Taking the baton to preview the $10m race is Australian form expert Darren Clayton, @dashman01. You can read more of his work regularly for UBet.
Track: ROYAL RANDWICK
Rated: Good 3
Rail: +6m Entire Circuit
1200m 3YO + Standard WFA
Forecast: 17 degrees, showers expected
Rated: Good 3
Rail: +6m Entire Circuit
1200m 3YO + Standard WFA
Forecast: 17 degrees, showers expected
The Everest has been able to achieve exactly what Racing NSW hope it would. The event has captivated racing folk and despite Caulfield hosting four G1 races on the same day, all the commentary has been on The Everest.
The concept may not be new, but in the Australian scope it is rather unique and looks at face value to be a huge success that should guarantee its future, despite being unable to capture any international runners.
So who will be the equine world’s Hillary and Norgay and become the first to conquer Everest? Here are my thoughts on the field.
The Thunder Down under as he was christened in his amazing victory at Sha Tin in the Chairmans Sprint, has been somewhat written off following two runs back from a spell. His run in The Shorts was anything but ordinary when the tempo set by Redzel from the front in a track record made it impossible to make ground, yet he was eating into the margin. He was too far back in the Premiere. He won his first TJ when third-up in his prep following runs at 1100m and 1200m the same path as this campaign two things stick out for me. 1. At the barrier draw Brenton Avdulla said- I was under strict instructions in how he was to be ridden and I followed those instructions. 2. The classy grey was somewhat written off before the TJ Smith back in the Autumn, on what seemed an odd prep where he was put over 1500m in the George Ryder. Team Hawkes know how to peak for a Grand Final and this is his.
Vega Magic has won his past four starts in succession, two at G1 level with victory in the Memsie at 1400m and The Goodwood at 1200m. He is unbeaten since joining the Lindsay Park team of huge effort when carrying 60.5kg, his Memsie win he never really looked threatened or to be doing it hard. His win in the Regal Roller at Caulfield was a biggest concern with this guy is that he hasn’t raced the Sydney way of going and if he is caught wide from gate 10, might be in some bother.
He has always shown that he had some good wins in him, and the patient approach from master trainer Peter Snowden along with son Paul is starting to be repaid. Since being well beaten behind Extreme Choice around this time last year in the Moir Stakes, the 5YO gelded son of Snitzel has put together the superb figures of 7: 5-2-0. The two second-placed runs were when beaten a neck in The Galaxy by Russian Revolution and a head behind English in the Premiere Stakes. He toyed with them in The Shorts when running a track record over 1100m and from gate four he can settle right on the pace. At $7.50 he will be giving you a sight for your money.
The second pick of the Lindsay Park team, the British-bred chestnut had never won a race at shorter than one mile when arriving in Australia. Winning the Sandown Stakes over 1500m on the minimum at the end of last Spring, he was sent first-up into the Newmarket Handicap and landed the 1200m sprint with 52.5kg. He will be second-up this prep and he is a three-time winner when two runs into a campaign. He won the Bobbie Lewis first up and this is where I find a chink- his two wins at 1200m have both been down the Flemington straight-six and with that in mind I can’t find a case for him.
One big plus for the 6YO is that he will have Hugh Bowman aboard. He ended his last campaign in good order when continuing a trend of top-weights being unable to get the job done in the Stradbroke Handicap. He returned in the Premiere Stakes when beaten just over one length behind In Her Time. Winkers go on for the first time as Kris Lees tries to sharpen him. While he may be a Group 1 winner, his only win at 1200m is in a benchmark 65 at Mudgee and his only Randwick success is at 1400m.
Gerald Ryan saddles Deploy who faces his acid-test. A real speedster he has jumped out of the ground to win hi past two starts, breaking track records in both. Owning the record that is likely to be beaten in this race, he finished hard to land the Show County Quality two starts back when carrying 55.5kg. With 56.5kg on his back in the Theo Marks at 1300m he set the pace and was electric in a four length victory in setting a new standard for the six-and-a-half furlong trip at Rosehill. Back to WFA is a real concern in this field and if set alight early, I think he might be gasping for air when it gets serious.
The 6YO has so many times come up just short of the mark and to be fair, has gained Inglis slot in the worst form of his career. At his best he would be mixing it with them, but unfortunately for trainer Matthew Dale, he has been searching for the key. So much so, that Dale has transferred the gelding away from his Canberra stables to train him on the beach at Moruya in an attempt to get his coat right. Winkers will also be added, with his record showing the longest winless streak of any runner in the field. Do the waters of Moruya have magical properties?
The Japanese import has only started three times in Australia, finishing the runner-up twice and winning the Listed Chandler Macleod at Moonee Valley over 1200m. His Australian debut was an eye-catcher when running hard through the line in the Regal Roller, running Vega Magic to a half-length. His win was far from impressive carrying 55.5kg and then beaten in the Testa Rossa is not the ideal lead-in. The blinkers go on, but perhaps the big query is the booking of Jamie Spencer to ride, that is no knock on Spencer, just an interesting decision. A win will certainly prove a Weiry masterstroke.
Co-trainer Gai Waterhouse has been talking up the chances of the 5YO mare, but Gai is pretty good at talking up any of her horses. Gate 12 is a big dampener, however with a solid tempo all but guaranteed, she should be able to float across heels without spending a penny. Her last win came when defeating Redzel in the Challenge Stakes in the Autumn and two runs later she had the TJ Smith in the bag until Chautauqua descended from nowhere to defeat her. While showing she can run a strong 1200m and has won out to 1400m, her only six furlong win was as a 2YO.
SHE WILL REIGN
What a fairy-tale it will be if the $20,000 purchase can score in the richest turf race in the world. Her large group of syndicated owners could well tear down the newly built stand at Randwick with their celebrations. The gun filly overturned a hoodoo of sorts of Slipper winners returning as winners at 3YO when she dominated a big field at The Valley in taking out the Moir Stakes. She has been brilliant in her victories and trainer Gary Portelli has reported that all is in readiness. A versatile type she can settle in behind the speed and with the 7kg pull at WFA will be poised to unleash. Corey Brown has secured the ride after Slipper winner Ben Melham couldn’t make the weight and his report was glowing after his first track ride.
The Magic Millions winner was one of the first to be signed up for a slot in the race and the Queensland filly will be partnered by the oldest jockey in the race, Jeff Lloyd. Last season’s premiership winning jockey in Brisbane, Lloyd has forgone a week of rides to ensure he makes the weight. While she has been brilliant against her own age, this is a huge step for her. Her return was a far from impressive run where she never looked to travel but to her credit did fight on well. Her second-up run was a much improved effort. From gate one, she will be hoping to hold a handy spot, leading could be her undoing, but can she come from off the pace against such a brilliant field. I think not.
I’m not sure where to start with Tulip. I don’t like to be overly negative when assessing horses on their merits, but let’s look at the facts. The filly is an 83 rater, she has not won either start in two runs back this campaign, draws poorly in gate 11 and will have her fifth jockey up at her ninth career start. Obviously Coolmore wanted their own horse to fill the slot they owned, however I really hope this doesn’t have a long-term impact on her career in meeting such a strong field.
I'm sticking with Chautauqua. You can’t write champions off and that is what he rightly is. The fact his whole prep has been centred on this race as the target and Hawkes can target a race with precision. He won his first TJ Smith when third-up in his prep following runs at 1100m and 1200m, exactly the same path as this campaign. That said, I think $5 is rock bottom, but shopping around there is some better value out there.
Redzel- his record is impeccable in the past 12 months and he has taken every rise in his stride. He draws ideally and if the predicted moves of Chautauqua and Vega Magic come, he might get out further than the current $7.50.