By Ray Hickson
Pierata is the first horse into the 2019 $14 million The Everest.
In a surprise move, Aquis has decided not to stand the entire at stud this spring and instead have confirmed him as their runner in Australia’s richest race, to be run at Royal Randwick on October 19.
He was retired just days after Tommy Berry drove him to a popular win in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) last month but trainer Greg Hickman is excited to have his stable star back and is adamant the best of the horse will be seen as a five-year-old.
“He’s only going to get stronger and better, I’m over the moon,’’ Hickman said.
“You don’t get this opportunity. I’m a small stable and you don’t get many opportunities to get a horse like him.
“I still want to win a Golden Slipper but you have to have the right horse in the stable. Now I get a chance to run in The Everest.’’
It’s the second year running that Aquis has moved first to secure an Everest runner – last year Trapeze Artist was locked in just days after he won the All Aged Stakes.
The now retired sprinter finished second to Redzel, while Aquis’ inaugural Everest representative Houtzen ran seventh.
Last spring Pierata won the Group 3 Sydney Stakes, the Everest consolation, in quicker time than Redzel won the main event and that sparked some speculation as to how he would have performed in The Everest.
He was Group 1 placed twice after Everest day, in the VRC Sprint Classic and his nose defeat in The Galaxy, before finally cracking it for the stallion making win to take his record to seven wins from 19 starts.
Hickman said it was a bold move by Aquis to delay Pierata’s retirement until the 2020 breeding season but it’s also a reflection of the esteem the horse is held in.
“I know in my heart he hasn’t had a taxing preparation this time in and we have a very talented horse,’’ he said.
“They (Aquis) don’t need to have another stallion into their system and they want to run him in The Everest and send him to stud in 2020/21.
“People have underestimated this horse all the way along. The thing about this horse is no matter how hard he runs he comes home and licks the bin out.’’
The Warwick Farm trainer said he’ll spend some time working out a program for Pierata for The Everest, starting at October 19 and working back.
In his latest preparation he only had the one barrier trial then had four runs spaced by two weeks.
Hickman said he’s likely to give Pierata two trials and resume him at 1200m but it’ll be a while before the path is finalised.
For now he’s just rapt to be a part of a race that has not only captured the racing world’s attention but carved itself a place as the most talked about race in the spring.
“I’m happy to have my star horse in the stable and you never know what will happen from there,’’ he said.