We had a nice return last week, with a couple of good things leading in the slop at Randwick and hanging on. The Witherspoon precedent may just have some legs!
Australia’s richest race and the world’s richest turf race will be run and won at Randwick on Saturday.
A crack field of 12 horses has been assembled for the Everest, which will be staged for the third year in a row. Connections of the winning horse will pocket a cool $6 million from the $14 million pool. Even if you run last you get $400,000.
I wrote this piece last year about why the Everest is Australia’s premier race and it continues to be a major talking point if you picked up any newspapers this week.
In a country full of sprinters, who think it produces the world’s best sprinters, the Everest is a far better race than the Melbourne Cup.
That’s not saying the Melbourne Cup isn’t a brilliant event, but that’s what it is: an event. It’s no longer a great race.
Below are my thoughts on each runner in the Everest, which is run over 1200 metres. Good luck if you’re having a flutter.
1. Santa Ana Lane (2)
Trainer: Anthony Freedman
Jockey: Mark Zahra, 58.5kg
Prize money: $5,288,836
For 900 metres of this 1200-metre race you are going to think he’s no hope of winning this race – that’s if you haven’t seen Santa Ana Lane race before. This sharp gelding does his best work late. Coincidentally, it also took him a long time to find his feet as a racehorse. He was plain in his early years before excelling in his more senior years. A multiple Group 1 winner, he will be flying home late and must be considered a winning chance.
2. Pierata (1)
Trainer: Gregory Hickman
Jockey: Tommy Berry, 58.5kg
Prize money: $3,629,700
This bloke is a very talented racehorse. He’s not quite sharp enough over the 1000 metres, but at 1200 metres he comes into his own. I would imagine Tommy Berry will use him out of barrier one to keep the fence and try and take a sit behind Nature Strip, who should lead from the outside gate. The question is going to whether Pierata can get a clear crack at open air in the closing stages. That’s the worry. I’d imagine so, and I think he’ll be in the finish, but that’s the concern.
3. Redzel (7)
Trainers: Peter and Paul Snowden
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy, 58.5kg
Prize money: $15,693,500
If you’ve backed Redzel in the last two editions of this race – the only two editions of this race – then don’t jump off now. Chasing a hat-trick of Everests, you couldn’t possibly knock Redzel on Saturday. He’s been aimed specifically at this race, has been given two runs this prep and should be ready to attack when the gates fly at Randwick. It’s unlikely Redzel will get the wet track he’s had in his previous two Everest wins, but 11 of his 15 wins have been on firm surfaces. At $10 that’s excellent each-way shopping. If he owes you nothing, back the champ.
4. Nature Strip (12)
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Tim Clark, 58.5kg
Prize money: $1,879,285
Bookies have got his odds right here. He might be one of the fastest horses in Australia over 1000 metres, but he’s not in the top 12 horses over the extra furlong. Tim Clark will hunt him out from the widest gate, look to cross to the lead and let him bowl along in front. The Randwick straight will be his undoing and he’ll be floundering when the whips start cracking. I expect him to finish in the bottom three. Chris Waller is a good trainer, but he can’t perform a lung transplant, which is what this horse needs.
5. Trekking (5)
Trainer: James Cummings
Jockey: Josh Parr, 58.5kg
Prize money: $1,801,495
He’s a really nice horse, has drawn perfectly and rarely runs a bad race, yet I can’t possibly tip him on Saturday. That’s how strong this race is. I doubt you’ll ever see $21 about this horse ever again, so if you backed him last weekend when he won at Caulfield, maybe have a couple of bucks on him as a goodwill gesture. But for those who haven’t been on him in the past, you should go into the race pretty confident he’s not going to knock you off.
6. Classique Legend (8)
Trainer: Les Bridge
Jockey: Nash Rawiller, 58.5kg
Prize money: $917,000
This lightly raced gelding would need some luck to go his way, but is not the worst horse going around in this event. Unproven at Group 1 level, it is a step up in class for this four-year-old, but connections have had plenty of time to prepare him for this race. I think you have to knock him simply based on the fact we haven’t seen him in a high-pressure elite race before, but a win would not shock me.
7. Ten Sovereigns (11)
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore, 58kg
Prize money: $939,575
The only international raider in this race is a huge price, but should only be that price if he hasn’t acclimatised from his trip to Australia. The Irish-trained stallion was a huge winner of the Group 1 July Cup this year and although his form has been inconsistent, I don’t think Australia’s sprinting ranks are as strong as they have been in the past. From a wide gate, I expect Ryan Moore to take a sit and try and finish over the top of his rivals. Include in exotics for value.
8. Alizee (10)
Trainer: James Cummings
Jockey: Hugh Bowman, 56.5kg
Prize money: $2,471,550
This brilliant mare has four wins over 1200 metres but I just don’t think she’s a top-line sprinter. The Godolphin-owned five-year-old has four first-up wins, so that might be the best explainer. She flies fresh. I think she’s better over 1400 metres and 1600 metres and that’s why I’m not giving her a chance on Saturday. I’d certainly rather be on the next horse at the same odds.
9. Sunlight (6)
Trainers: Tony and Calvin McEvoy
Jockey: Luke Currkie, 56.5kg
Prize money: $4,655,950
Another ten metres and Sunlight would have finished second a fortnight ago to Santa Ana Lane, but at least the run proved she’s not hopelessly out of form, as some suggested prior to that run. The McEvoy team will have her rock-hard fit for this assignment and will have been preparing Sunlight for this race for six months. From barrier six, Luke Currie won’t have to do too much to get her in a good position after the jump and I think she can be right in the finish.
10. In Her Time (4)
Trainer: Kris Lees
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla, 56.5kg
I’m a big Kris Lees fan but I can’t be tipping this mare with any kind of confidence. You’d love to own her and there’s another big race win for her at some stage, but first-up against hardened horses is going to be her undoing. I know five of her nine wins have been first-up, but this is different gravy. Brenton Avdulla will have her in a perfect spot, but when he hits the go button, I don’t think there’ll be enough in the tank to go past other rivals.
11. Arcadia Queen (3)
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: James McDonald, 56.5kg
Prize money: $1,204,785
If you asked me last December if Arcadia Queen was going to win the Everest in 2019, I would have laughed you out of the room. On Saturday, she’ll probably run as the second favourite. This classy mare has raced seven times for six wins and boasts victories over 1200, 1300, 1400, 1600 and 1800 metres. That shows she’s brilliant. I still think she’s probably better over a mile, but Waller has been aiming her at this race under instructions from the owner. Based simply on the fact I thought she might have been a shot at next week’s Cox Plate over 2040 metres, I’m going to risk her in this race. But I wouldn’t be at all sad if she won.
12. Yes Yes Yes (9)
Trainer: Chrs Waller
Jockey: Glen Boss, 53kg
Prize money: $575,450
Ah, the plucky three-year-old with no weight. This equation has been boggling the minds of punters for a century. Yes Yes Yes would be written off as no hope if he had to carry 58.5kg like the other Australian males in this race, but the fact he’s born a year later means he gets a 5.5kg weight relief. Will that be enough to put him into the mix? I think so. He was talented as a two-year-old but has come to hand quickly this spring. Bivouac would nearly be favourite in this race with the same weight and Yes Yes Yes nearly beat him last run, albeit over 1400 metres. The X-factor of this race.
Twelve horses, all of them stars. How do you split one from the pack? When the two-time Everest winner is double figures, you know it’s a hot field. I really wanted to top the oversea horse Ten Sovereigns, because I think he’s over the odds, but I’m going to keep my powder dry on him. The horse that gets a bit of luck will probably be the victor, so I’m tipping Pierata on top. Tommy Berry might be three-back the fence when Nature Strip goes pop, so if he can get him into the clear and have momentum at the 300-metre mark he’ll be right there in the finish.
Suggested bet: Pierata each-way.