The Everest providing sorely needed context for our sprint races

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    The Everest is in its debut season as Racing NSW attempts to shake up the spring carnival, and the pecking order is being established.

    Five of the top ten horses in betting were on display at Moonee Valley and Rosehill on Saturday.

    Starting in Sydney, we saw boom colts Menari and Pariah taking each other on in the Run to the Rose. They’ve got Golden Rose aspirations to fulfil before potentially hitting the Everest, and the first round went to the Gerald Ryan-trained Menari.

    Menari won the battle, but does that mean he’s going to win the war?

    The horse was impressive – a big, powerful colt putting in a big, powerful performance to win the race without giving anything else a chance. But as good as the horse was, Josh Parr won the race on him with a faultless riding performance.

    Aggressive out of the gates, Parr had Menari sitting second in the run, and nothing else was a chance from there once they entered the straight. Shinn was a bit more passive on Pariah in the early stages and wanted a forward position from his good barrier but was happy to take a sit behind the speed where his horse was comfortable.

    Menari sat a length and a half in front of Pariah during the race and finished a length and a half in front of him. If we swap the barriers and swap the rides, would Menari have been able to haul Pariah in?

    Pariah will meet Menari a kilo better in their next two meetings if both go to the Golden Rose and Everest and yet will likely be three times the price. Based on Saturday, I’m not yet convinced there is that much between them.

    Russian Revolution won a hot McEwen Stakes in a field of six quality sprinters, extending away after camping off the back of Heatherly.

    The best part of Russian Revolution’s race was his stamina at the end of the 1000-metre race after racing on the speed, running the quickest last 200 metres and powering through the line to put a space on his rivals.

    Let’s not forget, earlier this year he won the Group 1 Galaxy, beating fellow Everest contenders Redzel, Fell Swoop and English, and would be a more than worthy entrant if he takes a slot.

    Houtzen lost some admirers in the McEwen Stakes, even if Craig Williams didn’t do her any favours having her three wide in a six-horse field and under a bit of riding for most of the race.

    Williams was understandably aggressive out of the gates given Houtzen has made her name as a leader. In fact, this was the first time she hasn’t led in a race, as she simply didn’t have the speed to match Heatherly and Russian Revolution even with the light weight.

    Perhaps Houtzen was having an off day or she didn’t enjoy her first anti-clockwise run or perhaps didn’t totally handle Moonee Valley. Either way, question marks now surround what she’s capable of, even if she did show heart by rallying for third when it looked like she was going to be beaten ten lengths last at the top of the straight.

    Brave Smash is on the short list for the Everest place held by the ATC and won a listed race at Moonee Valley against a few smart types. He wasn’t as eye-catching as when running Vega Magic to half a length first up but showed toughness to win after being three wide with no cover for the duration.

    Brave Smash certainly tired late after moving into the race with ease entering the straight, and the question is whether the tough run took a toll. He was already looking for further than 1200 metres – or is he a better horse being ridden back in the field and saved for one run?

    Three-year-olds have the Golden Rose, Caulfield Guineas, Thousand Guineas and Coolmore Stakes to give context to their performances in the lead-ups.

    Stayers clearly have the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups to fulfil the same role. The middle-distance gallopers have the Cox Plate, although many will be looking to avoid Winx this year.

    There are a large amount of Group sprints in both Melbourne and Sydney, and the Everest is giving them a focus and context in the early part of the spring, as the contenders take various paths to the big day.

    This context is something that has been sorely lacking in our sprint races, and even some Group 1s fall into anonymity as the natural focus of the racing media and public interest is on the Cups and the Cox.

    The Everest is a standing beacon for our sprinters this spring. Already it is a success.

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • September 11th 2017 @ 9:36am
      Rob said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Think it’s a great concept. So much focus is on the Cups and CP (and rightly so), but The Everest can add an additional level of interest that isn’t just for a week or 2. Anything racing can do to generate interest over a longer period (which then obviously drives the build up to the race) can also help to put racing in the spotlight and help build the stories that come out of it.

      • Columnist

        September 11th 2017 @ 9:42am
        Cameron Rose said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        I’m interested in what sort of cut-through it is getting in Sydney. I love the fact that every week there is a new discussion point, especially as the slots are being worked out.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 9:36am
      Sausages said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Great read Cam. As a racing purist, I was doubtful of the concept when it was announced. I am certainly warming to it now as it gets closer. I’m intrigued by what David Hayes will do with his slot; does he take Vega Magic or Redkirk Warrior? Not a bad problem to have. Agree with you about the dominance of Russian Revolution, he looked like he’d come along again first up. She Will Reign is the one who could be anything, Menari certainly doing her form no harm.

      • Columnist

        September 11th 2017 @ 9:46am
        Cameron Rose said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        Yeah, I wasn’t sure about it either, particularly taking on Caulfield Guineas day.

        Vega Magic has to have the inside running for Hayes, based on what we’ve seen, but I believe Redkirk Warrior will resume this week in the Bobbie Lewis. If he can dominate, then does another slot holder negotiate with Hayes to give it to Redkirk?

        Good call on Menari franking She Will Reign, although I think we can take it now that he’s a few lengths better on a good track, and she dominated him on the absolute slops.

    • September 11th 2017 @ 9:47am
      Moose said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      I was a real sceptic of the Everest when it was announced, but must say with the recent sprint races in both Sydney and Melbourne it should turn out to be a great race. Will be interesting to see the final line up, especially if owners of a “slot” sell there slot to other owners who have a better inform horse.

      • Columnist

        September 11th 2017 @ 9:56am
        Cameron Rose said | September 11th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Yeah, I’m still not totally across who all the slot holders are, and if they’re aligned to any horses.

    • Roar Guru

      September 11th 2017 @ 2:56pm
      kv joef said | September 11th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      i was like ‘sausages’ at first. While USA’s $10m Peagus was successful, it was only so because it pulled the world’s top two colts looking for a rematch. With the Everest, initially, i thought who will trouble Chau … but as we know he doesn’t necessarily turn up on cue anymore and each week a new pretender lifts their hoof whinning… “pick me, pick me”.

      thru the Golden Rose and now the Everest focal point with prize inceases in traditional NSW spring races. RacingNSW recaptured a traditional genuine spring carnival for NSW. When i was growing-up, until 20 odd years ago there was a vibrant NSW spring carnival with QLD horses stopping off on their way to Vic. NSW horses, and some Vic horses would target the Epsom/Metrop long weekend and from there to Melb and the GFs and rematches would begin in earnest.

      badly managed Syd race clubs cut costs/prizes just as Vic increased their money and historical great races like the Epsom and Metropolitan were trashed. The Metro used to be the No.3 staying handicap in the spring. Now, as we seen a couple of years ago, a last start metrop-winner can’t even get a CaulCup start. A common pathway to the MCup was the Newcastle Cup, the Metrop, CaulCup, MelbCup – BJCummings used it often – Gurners Lane used it on his way to the double and the list goes on.

      RacingNSW has ignited the sport right across the state. Something to behold – they reinvigorated the heartland of our sport, the state’s regional racing – they blossomed the Autumn into an emerging international event and now they have recaptured the NSW racing spring and elevated it to it’s former status plus some. My old heart grows warmer every minute of this wonderful spring.

      • Roar Rookie

        September 11th 2017 @ 3:30pm
        JOHNY BULLDOG said | September 11th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

        Well said KV….great times coming up really soon..can’t wait!

      • Columnist

        September 11th 2017 @ 4:05pm
        Cameron Rose said | September 11th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

        Yep, really good stuff there KV.

        The Highway Handicap is and remains a great initiative. The Golden Rose has overtaken the Caulfield Guineas as the must win race for 3yo’s in the spring.

        It wasn’t that long ago that Tawqueet and Railings were doing the Metrop / Caul Cup double was it. I’d love to see that race back to its best.

      • September 11th 2017 @ 8:19pm
        no one in particular said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

        Highways are great, and the Country Championship series has been a brilliant initiative

    • September 12th 2017 @ 8:56am
      Scuba said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Racing NSW would be proud of this piece of spin Cameron.

      Let’s look back at what was said when the Everest was announced in February and assess the success of the race against those criteria:

      “The Everest will be a game-changer for racing in Sydney and provide a stage for showcasing the best Australian sprinters against leading international contenders,” said Racing NSW Chairman, Mr Russell Balding AO.

      Status: FAIL – no international contenders, leading or otherwise, will be running. The B-Grade ex-Japanese horse Brave Smash will be gifted a slot so that they can pretend otherwise.

      Australian Turf Club Chairman, Laurie Macri said: “The Everest is a joint venture between Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club, who share a vision to see more Sydney racing on the world stage.”

      Status: FAIL – see above.

      “This represents an innovative concept and a tremendous new event to promote thoroughbred racing to a broader audience” said Racing NSW Chief Executive Mr Peter V’landys AM.

      Status: UNSURE – as a racing enthusiast I am well aware of the Everest. Ask someone in the street who doesn’t normally follow racing and I’m not sure you would get the same answer.

      Australian Turf Club Chief Executive Officer, Darren Pearce said: “Sydney racing is going from strength to strength, and The Everest furthers our goal to attract a global audience, whilst providing Sydney with a massive drawcard in the Spring.”

      Status: PASS – the race does provide Sydney with a drawcard in the Spring. People overseas will probably tune in for five minutes to watch in the same way that people here watched the Pegasus.

      Racing Minister, The Hon Paul Toole said: “The Everest will provide another positive boost to NSW racing bringing to Sydney a world class event along with the substantial economic benefits associated with the race.”

      Status: UNLIKELY – with no international horses and with a clash with Caulfield Guineas day, the substantial economic benefits seem illusory.

      It’s not going to be the race that Racing NSW spruiked it as being. Articles saying that horses like Brave Smash and Deploy should get a slot demonstrate this. It’ll be a race with a similar class of field as the TJ Smith which has quarter of the prizemoney.

      As to context, a third of the field is likely to be made up of 3yos – as you say they already have grand finals in the Golden Rose and potentially then (depending on whether a sprinter or miler) on to the Caulfield Guineas or the Coolmore.

      The older sprinters already have context in the Manikato and the Darley. If you mean that there should be a sprinting Group 1 in Sydney as well, then I’d have no issue with that – but there’s no need to have thrown $10m at the race though except in the context of the eternal bragging rights competition with Victoria.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 12:12pm
        no one in particular said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

        A nice opinion on an event that has not even be held

        The TJ Smith has been a G1 race for just over a decade and is now the premier sprint race in the country. Determining the success of the race won’t happen after one year, let alone a month before

        • September 12th 2017 @ 1:23pm
          Scuba said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

          Correct, the TJ Smith is the premier sprint in the country. Didn’t need $10 million in prizemoney to achieve that, did it?

          • Columnist

            September 12th 2017 @ 1:39pm
            Cameron Rose said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            Good piece Scuba. Personally, I couldn’t care less what got said six months ago, or what the stated aims, objectives and KPI’s were. All I care about is the race.

            As a proud Victorian, I’d love to stick the boots in to this sort of decision from the Sydney administrators, but the difference between the TJ or the Darley is that no-one really cares about them until the week they are run.

            Every week we’re talking about the Everest, and looking at horses in the context of the Everest. Can they run well enough to get a slot, etc. I think it’s adding something unique to the racing discussion, so mission accomplished for me as a race fan.

            • September 12th 2017 @ 5:27pm
              Scuba said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

              Cameron, I’ve got no problem with that. I just think that the Everest could have been achieved for a lot less than $10m if Racing NSW abandoned the pie-in-the-sky notion that they were going to attract a field of crack international sprinters, which they should have known was not achievable based on the limited success they have had in attracting top class international horses to the Championships. At the same time, Racing NSW has really re-enlivened country racing in recent years and they deserve a lot of credit for that.

              It’ll be interesting to see whether the interest created in advance by the Everest (in racing circles anyway) is a one-off or carries on from year to year. This year interest is created in the lead up races by the idea that sprinters are in effect auditioning for a spot in the race. Whether that is really true or not remains to be seen – Brave Smash’s syndicator is on the record this week as saying if they have to buy a slot they will. If that becomes the norm then the race becomes less about the best sprinters and more about the sprinters with the richest backers, which I would think would lead to much less interest in the lead up.

    • Roar Guru

      September 12th 2017 @ 6:10pm
      kv joef said | September 12th 2017 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

      the Everest is a sweepstakes isn’t it? its not costing RacingNSW anything like $10m other than promotion etc and probably the consolation prize-money race.

      But your comments about the longevity of the race is valid Scuba, and it will come down to future ‘slot-holders’ stumping up the cash in 3 year commitments but i can tell you right now they have more interest than disinterest from high-risk investors. DamianF was on to it like ‘the Flash’.

      this year — OS visitors would have met the world’s top-rated sprinter for the last 2 years … on his home track ,,, and at the moment i can’t see any heir apparent to chau … so next year if a slot holder went looking for Harry Angel, Lady Aurelia or Coolmore decided to keep Caravaggio going after his form return at the curragh last weekend, who knows what could be come of the race.

      As a horse owner, i would think an invitation comes along to split a purse of $10m less exes and it’s going to cost you zip … i’d be interested.

      Anyway, this year, i think the race holds tremendous interest that will only be intensified after the Shorts on Saturday … and after the Everest … its off to the Darley.

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