By Ray Hickson
Trainer Cliff Brown suspects that TAB Everest slot holders want to see his outstanding sprinter The Inferno back up his first Australian win before making a move for a place in next month’s $15m feature.
The five-year-old, who was only beaten once in nine starts in Singapore, burst onto the TAB Everest radar with a strong second-up win in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) last Saturday downing Group 1 winners Portland Sky and September Run.
After the win he openly wondered if he had an Everest horse on his hands.
Brown, speaking on Sky’s Trek To The Everest, said The Inferno is an exciting sprinter and while the win didn’t attract a slot holder’s call he believes it had plenty of merit.
“Maybe it’s one of those situations, when you think about it, they want to see him do it again,’’ Brown said.
“I’m not sure. One thing I do know is you can’t worry about those things you can’t control so if someone does ring and we work it out, perfect.
“It was a good field and he won like he would when he was in Singapore. He’s never had to sit down and have a few back handers, he’s never experienced that, but when winning that’s how he does it.
“To win hands and heels beating two Group 1 winners that was very impressive.”
Brown spent 12 years in Singapore, leaving Australia around the time of the equine influence outbreak of 2007-08, and brought seven horses back with him when he returned to Melbourne earlier this year.
He said the success of the Everest hasn’t been a surprise and it’s a race he’d hope to be a part of, if The Inferno doesn’t make the field this year.
“I think it’s a tremendous race,’’ he said.
“You only have a look at what the field comprises of each year and the good horses, it’s a great concept. This race gets stronger and stronger every year and it’s a testament to how we’ve all taken it on board and enjoyed the sport of racing in Australia.”
The Inferno was beaten in the Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) first-up on August 14 and Brown blamed himself for what appeared a below par performance finishing sixth but was back to his brilliant best last weekend.
And the way he’s come through the win tells him the gelding is maturing and settling in well.
“First-up, I’ve said it several times, I really mucked the whole thing up,’’ he said.
“He trained better, he’d certainly improved, you never know how they are going to measure up or how they compare.
“He’s pulled up very well. I know in Singapore he’d always leave a little bit of feed for three or four days after a run and he left a bit of food Saturday night into Sunday morning but since then he’s eaten up very well.”
Five of the 12 slots have been filled in the TAB Everest so far – Nature Strip (Chris Waller Racing), Masked Crusader (Max Whitby & Neil Werrett), Lost And Running (TAB), Gytrash (Inglis) and all going well Classique Legend will run in his owner Bon Ho’s slot.
The Inferno’s win saw him enter the TAB Everest market at $21 and Brown said he’s likely to resist the temptation to tackle a lead up race in Sydney to show the horse off against some of his rivals.
“With the way the logistics are if we do get an invitation we’ll leave it late to send him up because we won’t be able to go ourselves,’’ he said.
“I’m sure whatever he runs in next, it will still be a very good field.”
The $15m TAB Everest (1200m) is run at Royal Randwick on October 16.