Aquis Eye First-up Everest Ambush With Libertini

By Ray Hickson

Outstanding mare Libertini will be given the chance to be the first horse to win the TAB Everest first-up after the Anthony Cummings-trained star secured her slot with Aquis.

It’s a show of faith by Aquis in Cummings’ belief that Libertini’s best performance is fresh and now both parties hope she can produce one of her trademark sizzling first-up performances.

Aquis CEO Shane McGrath (Pic: Racing & Sports)

In her past two spring campaigns Libertini has broken 1:08 over the Randwick 1200m when resuming from a spell – she ran 1:07.93 in the 2019 Silver Shadow and 1:07.60 to beat Classique Legend in last year’s Premiere Stakes.

Aquis CEO Shane McGrath said Libertini has proven herself to be a top class sprinter and is happy to back Cummings to have her ready to produce her best on October 16.

“At the end of the day he knows her better than anyone,’’ McGrath said.

“She is lethal first-up and if she runs 1:08 she’ll be right there in the finish, and if she’s improved at all she’s a winning chance.

“At the end of the day the racing game is about connections and Gerry Harvey and (Aquis boss) Tony Fung are old sparring buddies. The two old dogs are looking forward to racing the horse together and it’ll be a bit of fun if nothing else.”

You can throw John Singleton into the mix as well as part-owner with Harvey of Libertini.

Cummings said he’s pleased to be given the opportunity to train the mare as he’s preferred to bring out her best in the TAB Everest.

After gaining a slot in 2020 with her Premiere Stakes win she contested the race second-up and wasn’t as effective as she finished eighth after drawing the outside barrier.

She was given an easy time in a barrier trial at Randwick on Friday morning, where all eyes were on the winner Classique Legend, and Cummings said she’s pulled up well and will have an exhibition gallop at the races early next month.

“I think she’s fine, she’s basically doing it in her own time,’’ he said.

“She’ll have a gallop between races either on the Monday of the long weekend or the Wednesday after and that should be enough to get her there.

“The short story is I’m pretty pleased with the way she’s going.

“You can basically take aim now and not have to think about the other race, we can get there in the shape you want to in the time you want to.”

Aquis has had mixed success in the four years of the TAB Everest and McGrath said Libertini became an obvious choice when an option wasn’t available among its band of horses.

Their best result is a second with Trapeze Artist in 2018 while Pierata, who now stands at Aquis, finished fifth in 2019.

“We’ve gone close a couple of times,’’ he said.

“Ultimately the reason Aquis has a slot is to utilise it from a stallion making perspective and when we didn’t identify a horse within our own ranks then you have to look at what can win the race for you.

“She was a definite on every system that we have. Once you narrow it down to winning chances we firmly believe she is a winning chance.”