By Ray Hickson
Kerrin McEvoy described it as the ‘perfect’ start for Redzel and it’s hard to argue.
Of the five confirmed runners in The $13 million TAB Everest we saw race last weekend, the defending champ is the one that has made an early statement with his easy win in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m).
Despite his dominance, Redzel wasn’t able to wrest favouritism from Trapeze Artist in TAB’s all-in market.
“The big shake up to the market just never really eventuated so now all eyes turn to favourite Trapeze Artist when he resumes on Saturday,’’ TAB’s Gerard Middleton said.
“Redzel has firmed a point into $5 and looks perfectly poised for his TAB Everest defence after winning the Concorde.
“Invincible Star has been $15 to $26 as it’s hard to see her turning the tables on Redzel. The weight scale of the Concorde presented her a big chance and our bookies decided to take Redzel on accordingly and lost.
“Vega Magic drifted from $6 to $8, after Humidor won the Memsie, but was far from disgraced.’’
If we’re handing out grades, Redzel’s performance was a distinction.
What do we make of Invincible Star, who was first-up for 10 months off an injury, and the efforts of Vega Magic, Brave Smash and Santa Ana Lane in defeat in their respective races?
Everest Report Card – September 1
Redzel (trainers Peter & Paul Snowden; slot holder Yulong Investments)
TAB: $6 into $5
From the moment the gates opened in the Concorde Stakes, it seemed Kerrin McEvoy was always in control of the race on Redzel. He was able to jump cleanly, and ahead of his main rival Invincible Star, then camp at her quarters and never allow her to get comfortable. While clearly open to improvement, at the 300m Redzel was still in cruise mode and it appeared McEvoy was only serious on him for a furlong as he put the race away. He’ll never be a horse that wins by huge margins but he rarely leaves you in doubt.
Like last year, Redzel heads to The Shorts (1100m) on September 15 which is run under set weights and penalties so he’ll have top weight again.
Invincible Star (trainers Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott; slot holder GPI Racing)
TAB: $15 out to $26.
As an Everest audition we would have liked to have seen more from Invincible Star, who was expected to give Redzel a much bigger run for his money than she ultimately did. Not appreciating the tough gelding breathing down her neck doesn’t cut it as an excuse as she had 4kg less and just didn’t accelerate as we saw in her trials leading in. But, all is not lost.
After the race co-trainer Gai Waterhouse declared there was a lot of improvement to come in the lightly raced mare and jockey James McDonald said she’d be better off in the tempo of a 1200m race. If she goes to The Shorts, as is likely, that race will tell us what chance she has come October 13.
Vega Magic (trainers David & Ben Hayes & Tom Dabernig; slot holder James Harron)
TAB: $6 out to $8
There wasn’t a whole lot that went right for Vega Magic in the Memsie, a race he won easily last year on the way to second in The Everest. So, there’s a case to be a bit forgiving. He stepped away a shade slowly and wasn’t able to find the lead and dominate, he didn’t settle all that well in the middle stages and, probably because of that, once he hit the front there was no dash left in him over the last 100m.
The problem is that we’re not going to see him again until The Everest. It’d be a surprise if the blinkers aren’t reapplied for the grand final and it’s a matter of placing your faith in the Hayes/Dabernig team to have all the one percenters right.
Santa Ana Lane (trainer Anthony Freedman; slot holder Inglis)
Given he is not a noted first-up performer, connections of Santa Ana Lane couldn’t have asked for a lot more than his fifth placing in The Heath over 1100m. He was dragged back to last from a wide barrier and was still last coming to the 200m before he wound up right down the outside to be beaten 1.4 lengths by Ball Of Muscle.
Unless he produced a failure, his Everest claims were never going to be judged on this first-up effort. That said, this kick off was far superior to his last campaign. He improved three lengths second-up before winning two Group 1s on end. If he adds his name to The Shorts line up we’ll have a much clearer picture of where he stands.
Brave Smash (trainer Darren Weir; slot holder Chris Waller Racing)
Whether it’s in Japan or Australia, Brave Smash has never won first-up so you’d have to expect him to improve on his third placing in The Heath. He did have every chance in the run, settling on the fence better than midfield and gained an uninterrupted passage to the line but he couldn’t pick up Ball Of Muscle while a wall of horses closed in on him wider out.
He won second-up last spring on his way to running third in The Everest while second-up in the autumn he was narrowly beaten by Hartnell in the Orr Stakes at 1400m. So, what he does next start will also point us towards his chances.
This week’s runners
It’s our first look at Everest favourite Trapeze Artist (slot holder Aquis) under race conditions this spring in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
In Melbourne, Shoals (slot holder The Star) begins her Everest campaign in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley against boom sprinter Nature Strip who is an $8 chance in the Everest market but hasn’t yet secured a slot in the race.