To once again be run on what was traditionally known as Caulfield Cup day, the pride and joy of Sydney racing, The Everest, has proven so successful it has now crept into racing calendar vernacular taking pride of place beside its time honoured southern counterpart in the naming rights honours for the feature race day.
Whether it’s known as Caulfield Cup slash Everest Day, or vice versa probably depends largely on which side of the River Murray you take your tea on. Tomato/tomato stuff really but whatever way you say it, there can be no disputing that the fact these two races are being talked about on equal footing in the same sentence is a win for Team PVL up north.
Whilst these pair of races might be the kind of stuff the majority of us can only dream about, the little brother ‘Kosciuszko’ concept has breathed life into country racing and proven popular with punters of all denominations who continue to snavel up tickets by the thousands for a shot at owning the tale of a runner in a big race.
No doubt it’s also quiet a well-received idea over in Dubai by Sheik Mohammed and his crew as they see record yields from their dispersal sales with wily race horse owners looking to jump the queue by forking out overs for a tried horse worthy of a lottery pick. The concept of the top end of town profiteering to the detriment of the bushies surely goes against the very foundation of the race and is something that looks sure to be addressed before next year’s edition.
For now, we can only deal with what’s in front of us. So here we go.
Under the pump here after finding the trifecta last year plus a few changes to the market in the past seven days now Matty Dunn has deemed himself ineligible for the race upon taking up permanent boxes at Rosehill.
Front Page: Think the market has it right here placing it on top. Though the current quote is too skinny for mine given irrespective of what he does between now and then, his SP won’t be too far off that mark on race day with the big pool and form lines to line up from all over the state. That said, hard to see anything outside of the top three or four of his rivals venturing to Melbourne and winning a stakes race in the manner he did at that point of their respective career. Not really that taken by what he beat on the day, but the turn of foot he displayed for such a lightly raced horse is well worth getting excited about. Not an easy race by any means, but you have to feel he has more upside that than the majority of these.
Two Big Fari: If you need any further convincing as to why this bloke is ‘The Banker’ go back and watch his Country Championships final replay. Was entitled to run closer to last than just 0.6L from the winner after the torrid run he had. His record is exceptional and although it’s a flowery cliché, he literally has never run a bad race. Was far too good for them when resuming in a competitive Class 6 on Grafton Cup day where he again displayed his will too win overcoming a bad draw. Currently at each way value, he is the one I want to be on.
Intuition: Ex Godolphin galloper who has come in for strong support in the race since joining the Kurt Goldman yard in Goulburn. Dropped out the back and allowed to find the line which he has done strongly in his two runs in the new colours. His race record is that of a more than handy galloper, particularly at 1200m, with the highlight being a 3rd place in the Group 3 Healy stakes in Brisbane last winter. Probably served his purpose for the Blue Army but no doubt a handy addition to the Goldman yard, he could prove a shrewd purchase if they are able to maintain him at the level he has previously raced at, and on his two runs to date you would say that looks the case.
Redouble: Probably the best example of why we’ll see the race run under different conditions next year. A stakes performed galloper still under the same ownership transferred to the Mitchell Beer yard for the specific purpose of targeting this race. He brings strong form through the likes of a victory over G1 winner Dreamforce, a placing behind multiple G1 winner Trekking, and a 0.6L defeat by one-time race favourite Snitz, who ironically is now ineligible for the race. Yet to resume for the new yard, but he would only need to pick up where he left off with the Baker team to be in this up to his ears. Represents excellent value at the current double figure odds quote.
Last year’s winner Handle the Truth needs no introduction. He hit a bit of a flat spot in the middle of his latest prep after returning a winner but rounded it out with a nice 2nd to Viridine. That form reads quite good after his brave effort behind Jungle Edge on the weekend. Recent stakes winner Lord Von Costa jumped into calculations after finding some of his form from years gone by. Half sister to Press Statement, News Girl has an excellent record already being a winner in town in Melbourne with multiple stakes placings, however she has been up for a long preparation and suggest she might be aimed at enhancing her stud value by chasing more black type through the Spring. Outside of that bunch, the race falls away in my opinion.
Two Big Fari is on top for mine and worth having something on at the current quote. He only knows one way to race and that is to win at all costs. With that in mind, you would have to think he’s got at least another win or two on him between now and then which will only see his quote shorten. Whether you like it or not, Redouble is allowed in the race and has by far the best credentials of any runner. Shopping big overs at the moment when you line his runs on the boards up against his rivals. Current favourite Front Page is one of those horses I’m referring to there but whilst his current price may be skinny, he’s untapped and we might be laughing at that quote this time next year if he fulfills his potential. Happy to run with them as my top three at this point. Hard to see last year’s winner Handle the Truth not running top 4 although he’ll face a few fresh faces compared to last year’s field whilst Intuition is building nicely towards the race and will almost certainly be towards the top of prospective ticket holders wish lists. But it’s all Two Big Fari for mine.
A real changing of the guard amongst the top end of town sprinting ranks. Half of last year’s field has either been retired or headed off to stud duties, European visitor Ten Sovereigns won’t be headed our way again after finishing last, likewise Arcadia Queen who’ll target middle distance races this spring after a failed sprint campaign, whilst Santa Ana Lane has already had two throws at the stumps and been unable to crack it and will be 8yo by the time the race rolls around. Let’s have a look at what’s left out of last year and try and find a couple of new kids on the block.
Nature Strip: Certainly couldn’t have him as ‘The Banker’. Even as good as he’s been under Waller, he’s still prone to the old head scratcher and he did have his colours lowered convincingly in this race last year. Sits on top of the market though and certainly not by default. From his four starts since last year’s race he’s won three out of four, a pair of G1’s and a Group 2. And then there was that run in The Lightning. And it was simply hard to find legitimate excuses for him that day except for the fact he clearly has dual personalities. Loving Gaby made ground in that part of the track, whilst he came out and won his next start at the same 1000m trip which nullifies the argument he’s better when can settle in at a tempo over 1200m. Nothing would surprise if he came out and won by 2L easing up, but at the short quote, in a high-pressure race, and given his history of having a day off, let’s try and find one to beat him.
Gytrash: Whilst our ’star’ might have the occasional off day, you have to search long and hard through this bloke’s record to unearth one. In fact, the only time he’s finished out of the top 3 is an unplaced run in the Group 1 Goodwood which he contested as a lightly raced three year old. He’s lowered Nature Strip’s colours at WFA in The Lightning and he was all but home in The Goodwood where he faced the breeze from the bad draw and it took the Group 1 winner Trekking to run him down. That’s right, the same horse that we tipped here in The Everest last year and he subsequently ran 3rd at big odds and beat Nature Strip home. Reverse the draws in The Goodwood and no doubt he wins. Surely with a C.V. like that he’d have to be second favourite? Wrong. Right now he’s at tasty double figure odds with a couple of two year olds and a Queenslander with a positive swab hanging over his head ahead of him in the market. Not only do I want to be backing him, but if I was a slot holder, I know which horse I’d be giving my $600k lottery purchase to.
Tofane: Kiwi bred mare in the hands of a very patient ex-pat Kiwi trainer. Rewarded her conditioners faith by coming on leaps and bounds last prep rounding it out with a G1 WFA victory. That was over Pierata which is a great form line to tap into for a race like this. And it was over the 1400m at Royal Randwick which also ticks plenty of boxes for a high pressure six furlong race. Rest assured she won’t be up there doing any of the donkey work and given further time for maturity, if she is able to reproduce the finish of her past two outings, she’s a huge chance of storming home to figure in the top three at the very least which makes her current quote very attractive.
Classique Legend: With better luck in running could he have won last year’s race? I honestly thought so at the time. Which I also thought made him a good thing in The Golden Eagle a fortnight later. History will show he bombed in that event and finished well behind a few that haven’t gone on with it and that he would beat up most days of the week. More questions than answers, and with just the one run, carrying 60kg, scouting deep on a very wintery track, against very wintery performers, I really don’t think we are any the wiser. One thing we do know about him is he’s an absolute brute of an animal who would have taken no harm from the extra 12 months under his belt. And his trainer knows just about every blade of grass of the Randwick 1200m circuit. Be surprised if he doesn’t run top 3.
With plenty of slots yet to be confirmed we could hypothesise all day on this topic which no doubt is being hotly debated in every local watering hole around the table of knowledge. We’ve already covered off Farnan, Prague and Rubisaki in the earlier editions, all whom will come in for serious consideration for slot owners. I think there’s more than a few queries around the Alligator Blood form lines by now. Plus the ongoing swab saga doesn’t exactly buoy one with confidence. Bivouac is well in the market but has been beaten home by most of these at some point. Whilst Loving Gaby is too big a risk in pre post markets given you only have to spit on the ground and she loses five lengths. Trekking is consistent at the top level, only weights and heavy tracks have pulled him up since running third in last years race. He’s a dual G1 winner, but a race like this is next level and I just can’t quite have him here.
Going with the unheralded Gytrash here. The form through him and the current quote are too good to pass up. Rubisaki for reasons discussed in the three year old edition ticks many of the profile boxes for a race like this. Whilst she’s unproven at Group 1 WFA, I think it’s only a matter of time. Classique Legend has been set specifically for this race with a long-term plan in place. Given luck in running he may well have been coming back to defend his crown and you to think this year’s edition looks somewhat easier on paper. Have to include Nature Strip in the top four, whilst a couple of two year olds in the form of Peltzer and Prague could be two out of left field which will attract plenty of interest if they show a bit early given the profile of last year’s winner.