In one of the most anticipated launches in modern day racing, the $10 million Everest runs for the first time on Saturday at Royal Randwick. Not only will it eclipse the Melbourne Cup as the richest race in Australia, but the massive purse offered to owners of the 12 slots surpasses all other prize pools for any other single turf event across the globe.
Usually in the middle of October we're talking about Caulfield Guineas day which is Melbourne's big race meet this Saturday. This year, however, the headlines are dominated by the 12 starters in this red hot sprint, The Everest. With so much written in the media, we’re making it easy for you to distil the key information for your horse. The journal below brings together the most insighful comments from connections and expert form analysts for each contender. It's a must read before you punt.
After what seemed like a disappointing run second-up Brenton Avdulla, the jockey of the three time TJ Smith winner, certainly doesn’t want to jump off now - “If we get a track that’s even, I’m happy. The two races he’s been in this preparation have been on very firm tracks and it’s been very hard to make ground, but if we have last Saturday’s Randwick track he’s a very live shot… I've followed strict orders on how to ride him in his first two and I've been really happy with him. I've no doubt he's a live shot". Daily Telegraph
Michael Hawkes has seen his seven year-old gelding do some remarkable things in his career to date and in his opinion Saturday presents as another chance to add to that already long list - “We’re pretty happy with the horse. His runs have been good. Although he hasn’t won, he’s been thereabouts in both runs. His sectional times say he’s still on song. His work was great this morning (10 October). He’s been set for this race. It’s a class field but we’re very happy.” ESPN
Great finish in the Shorts first-up but left his run too late in the Premiere when backed in $2.80 favourite
2. Vega Magic
Ben Hayes the partner in the Victorian-based Lindsay Park training team thinks the outlook for his big powerful sprinter looks optimistic after Vega Magic worked with stablemate, fellow Everest contender Redkirk Warrior on Monday.
"We were very happy with both of them," Hayes said. "Vega just looks a natural and he hasn't done anything wrong for us yet. He is just so big and powerful. He worked excellent, I was really happy with how relaxed he was during his first look at the track." Brisbane Times
- Never raced clockwise.
- Has won four on the trot, including two since moving from WA to be trained by Team Hayes in Victoria.
- Shared favouritism until the barrier draw.
- Likes to race forward and will need some luck from barrier 10.
Peter Snowden put the final touches on Redzel’s Everest preparation on Tuesday morning and he couldn’t be happier with how the 5 year-old gelding has progressed after two straight wins at Randwick over 1200m - "I don't think I've had him ever as good as he is now, I'm really, really happy. Without getting overawed, I'm confident he's going to run well… Our best chance is getting the maths right. If we get our sectionals right we’ll be very hard to beat… Kerrin’s good with horses that race on speed. He judges the pace probably better than anyone.” Brisbane Times
- Loves the Randwick circuit with seven starts for four wins and two places.
- Has returned after his win in the Doomben 10,000 (May 2017) with two wins from as many starts over the Everest distance at Randwick.
- Has won on all surfaces and won’t mind if the track softens before they jump.
4. Redkirk Warrior
Reagan Bayliss was able to provide an insight into two of the Everest starters, after a Monday track gallop with Vega Magic before jumping on her mount Redkirk Warrior - "I think Vega Magic is one of the horses to beat and I'm very worried about him after getting to ride him this morning… He is a big horse. He is just a professional from the time we cantered off he was on his right leg. It was like he had had a couple of starts this way, not a horse that has never raced this way” BrisbaneTimes. Although Reagan had big wraps on Vega Magic, she is more than happy to be on-board Redkirk Warrior – “He was super in that gallop (Monday) and I wouldn't change for any horse in the race…it is funny to say that a seven-year-old is getting better but he is just more seasoned this time around." Brisbane Times
Trainer Ben Hayes had other ideas for the horse leading into Everest and although things had to change, he still thinks he has his horse in the best possible shape for Saturday - "I would have loved to have run Redkirk first up in it, but we had to show everyone how good he is going to get a slot so we picked the race a month out. We can't be happier with him… Last time (in Sydney) didn't suit him but his work has been good and he's very good fresh”. Brisbane Times
Newmarket winner in the autumn got back on track with a 2½-length win at Flemington last start after a muddling Sydney campaign on bog tracks in April. The seven-year-old raced twice at Randwick over autumn but struggled on heavy tracks in the Group One Doncaster Mile and All Aged Stakes, so Hayes will be happy with Sydney's current dry spell.
5. Clearly Innocent
The Newcastle trainer wasn’t about to declare his starter a horse to beat, instead Lees preferred to state the realistic chances of his underrated 6yr old gelding - “He’s going to get the race run to suit and, to be fair to him, he probably wants a touch further.”The Heraldsun
- Group 1 winner over 1300m.
- His two Group 1 races have been in Brisbane.
- 3 from 3 on Soft ground and 1 from 1 on heavy.
Trainer Gerald Ryan shed some further light on his chances this week, stating “After he won the Show County, Chris Waller mentioned it to me (The Everest) on the Monday morning and I said 'Jeepers Chris, I don't know if he's quite good enough'. But his win in the Theo Marks changed his mind and he’s very pleased with how his entrant has trained on." Nine.com.au
- Has never run in a Group One but is two from two in Group Two races.
- Undefeated at the track and the distance from two starts.
7. Fell Swoop
Canberra trainer Matthew Dale wasn’t concerned about the price of his starter and it's probably because he’s got a better memory than most, having placed twice in the TJ Smith - “We knew he would need those couple of runs to bring him on and the change of environment, we have dropped him down to our Moruya base straight after his last run, and it has really brought him on… I was happy with his work in the winkers this morning (10th October) and he has never had blinkers or winkers on him in his life….” Daily Telegraph
Tye Angland, the jockey for Fell Swoop, thought the race pattern would suit his mount on Saturday "It's going to be a little bit tricky from barrier eight, but it's a high-pressure race and that sort of falls into Fell Swoop's ideal category… He's a little bit of a strong-going horse. He hasn't got the greatest turn of foot, so the harder-run the race is, it suits him because he keeps grinding and grinding." Daily Telegraph
- Two placings in the past two TJ Smith’s
- Third-up stats 5:2-1-2
- Jockey and horse yet to secure a first 3 finish after 3 rides
- Last win 75 weeks ago
8. Brave Smash
Hunter syndication company Australian Bloodstock brought Brave Smash over from Japan with The Everest in mind and co-director Jamie Lovett drew barrier nine on Tuesday. The Darren Weir-trained Brave Smash will wear blinkers on Saturday.
“[Weir] has sort of been saying for a month or so that he’s a blinker horse so I guess we’re just fronting up on Saturday excited to see him run up to his best… We think he’s best will put him into the race. Obviously he’s got his knockers but that’s racing… He’s run time overseas and even the day at Caulfield he ran behind Vega Magic, he did run time, so we’re going there with a fair bit of confidence and we’re very excited to be in the event.” Jamie Lovett The Herald Sun
- Beaten $1.65 favourite last start at Caulfield in a listed race.
- Yet to win at Group One level.
The young gun co-trainer from the Waterhouse stable, Adrian Bott thinks the highest rated mare in the race is about to reach her peak at the perfect time - "It was there for everyone to see that she's come up well this season. She showed she's still got that brilliant turn of foot." ESPN
Whilst Bott was confident that his mare has returned to her best, his senior trainer partner Gai Waterhoue discussed a training trick she has used in the lead up to the race - "The blinkers were just there to sharpen her up a bit (on Monday). We use them on her sometimes in gallops. She is out there alone and we wanted her to work strongly and she did. She looks perfect and her preparation has been measured to have her peak for this race.” ESPN
Race jockey Blake Shinn asked her for a strong gallop at Canterbury on Monday morning and wasn’t left disappointed - "I've had a lot to do with her and I think she is going great. That last run gave me a lot of confidence. Her sprint there was as good as she has sprinted for me in any of her races… Obviously we'll ride her quiet. Hopefully they overdo it in front and we're the last one on the scene.” SMH
- Ran within a head of winning the TJ Smith in April.
- Came from second last on the turn to just miss in the Premiere a fortnight ago.
10. She Will Reign
The race favourite has continued to gain support for Saturday’s $10 Million event with a favourable barrier draw (2) and trainer Gary Portelli thinks he has the filly to take out the major prize - “Her work was sensational (on Tuesday morning) and it left me with goosebumps after it. Corey (Brown) came back in and you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face… He was looking forward to galloping her and he came back in and said, ‘I haven’t had a horse give me that feel for a long time’. Daily Telegraph
- Golden Slipper winner from earlier this year.
- Won the Group 1 Moir first up at Mooney Valley a fortnight ago.
Houtzen’s trainer Toby Edmonds tried to keep riding tactics under wraps when questioned earlier in the week, but many weren’t taking the bait. The front running filly will only be looking for one spot come Saturday - “We won’t be showing our hand this far out but we can do that (if we want). It’s probably a race where tactically we’re going to have to be better than them and that’s probably the only way if we are going to be in the finish…" Daily Telegraph
Apart from the riding tactics, the trainer was over the moon about the work his filly has done since her last start win - “Her work at Caulfield this morning was exceptional. She worked the reverse way and she actually flew.. It’s been our plan to have her really peaking third-up and at her best.” Daily Telegraph
- Fifth in the 2017 Golden Slipper.
- Won a Group 3 at Mooney Valley last start over 1200m.
When questioned about the Coolmore nominated 3 year-old, co-trainer Ben Hayes thought Tulip might race considerably better then her rating of 83 – “She had a good two-year-old sprint record, not far off She Will Reign. I tested her in private for Coolmore and lined her up with some of my good sprinters. Apart from the Everest horses I have some very good Group 1 sprinters like Sheidel and I can tell you she came through with flying colours. She's not there for practice.” AAP
Third in this year’s Golden Slipper, but hasn’t set the world on fire with her two runs in this campaign. Team Hayes is adamant she is at her best at 1200m.