By Ray Hickson
It’s likely that classy mare Libertini will be out of sight for much of the early spring but trainer Anthony Cummings hopes she remains at the forefront of slot holders’ minds as he hatches a bold plan to win the TAB Everest first-up in October.
With five of the 12 slots already filled for the $15m sprint classic, Libertini could claim to be the forgotten horse of this year’s Everest.
She already has the scalp of defending champ Classique Legend from her first-up win last spring in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) and in the autumn she recorded Group 1 placings behind Bivouac (with Nature Strip second) and Masked Crusader.
The rising five-year-old started a $6 chance in the 2020 edition, after winning the Premiere, before finishing eighth in the Everest and is currently $26 in all-in betting.
“The fact is her best run in nearly every preparation has been her first-up run,’’ Cummings said.
“I think you just go with the flow and get her ready for that, hopefully she impresses enough people along the way to get a start.
“She’s run close to track records first-up most of the time, in some respects she is a little bit weather sensitive in that she is much better on top of the ground. I dare say she would be on people’s radar but so too would the weather be.”
In the four editions of the TAB Everest so far no horse has won the race first-up so Cummings, and owner Gerry Harvey, are to an extent relying on her reputation, particularly fresh, to secure a place.
Cummings said Libertini has already proven she is one older horse that is capable of winning a TAB Everest. She secured a start in 2020 with James Harron on the back of the Premiere Stakes win.
She’s still five weeks away from returning to his stable and he plans to showcase her in barrier trials as the business end of the wheeling and dealing for slots nears.
“She should sell herself, I can talk until I’m blue in the face but she’s the one doing the running,” Cummings said.
“Really you have to rely on (a slot holder) having to wait until that point.
“Each year there has been someone work it out late, as close as a week out, and I’d be surprised if at that point we weren’t the most attractive.”
Aside from Libertini, Cummings nominated a few horse he hopes can measure up in the spring including German import Nancho, stakes placed filly Fayerra and rising three-year-old Tristate.
Nancho has won 11 of his 18 starts and while he hasn’t raced since winning a Group 1 at Munich in November 2019 he has had three preparations with Cummings and is set to make his Australian debut in the spring.
“He starts doing evens this week, he’s been through the stable three times so far and improved each time,’’ he said.
“His last trial (in March) was very good, he had a break after that, now he’s had a chance to be fully acclimatised and have a proper preparation.”
The Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) on August 21 is likely to be Nancho’s kick off race.
Both Fayerra and Tristate are maidens so there’s a lot more room to move with them in their preparations.
Fayerra, who has recovered from a back issue that kept her out of the season so far, hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in King’s Legacy’s Group 1 Champagne Stakes last year while Tristate was competitive in a couple of the Golden Slipper lead ups in the autumn.