By Ray Hickson
Damion Flower’s search for an Everest runner could take him international or wind up being very close to home.
As one of the remaining nine slot holders looking for the right horse to take his slot in the $13 million The Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 13, Flower revealed he’s playing a different game to 2017.
Last year Flower, who was first to buy a slot, was the last to lock in his runner, going with the Kris Lees-trained Clearly Innocent who ran eighth. But for 2018 he’s hoping to have something confirmed sooner rather than later.
“I’m scouting a little bit earlier than I was last year. I’ve got a couple of nice horses up my sleeve and an international horse I’m looking at,’’ Flower said on Sky Sports Radio.
“I’m looking at those sprinters overseas that could match (the locals), a dead set six furlong horse that can sprint off a fast pace.
“The only horse I see at the moment is the Sheikh’s horse Harry Angel, I’m not too scared to say that. I haven’t contacted them or anything but he’s one.’’
Harry Angel is a European four-year-old owned by Godolphin and trained by Clive Cox.
He won the July Cup at Newmarket last year and holds entries for Group 2 races at York and The Curragh later in May as well at the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Flower said he hasn’t entered into any discussions with Godolphin regarding Harry Angel, or any other horse, at present but would go through the local arm first if and when he does.
He’s also looked into Hong Kong but there are road blocks in play there, not least regarding quarantine but also the fact their major race day is in December.
A lot closer to home, Flower confirmed he has had entered into discussions regarding three-time Group 1 winning filly Shoals.
Arrowfield boss John Messara has been actively looking for an Everest slot for the filly since her explosive win in the Robert Sangster Stakes in Adelaide last weekend and already has ties with Flower.
“I’m quite close to John Messara, I’ve got Snitzel sitting there in one of the barns. So you can assume I have had contact with Arrowfield, yes,’’ he said.
“There are a couple of three-year-olds around that can match it with anyone and they are in Australia at the moment.’’
Three-year-olds like Kementari and Menari, who is a son of Flower’s stallion Snitzel, come to mind in that category.
With reigning champ Redzel, star three-year-old Trapeze Artist and top class mare In Her Time already secured for The Everest the opportunities to snag a contender are drying up.
Unless something emerges in the spring, as Redzel did, Flower believes there are a limited number of realistic winning hopes available and while moving on a horse five months out could be premature it’s also important to secure the right horse and give them time to prepare.
“Getting to the business end if you’re the last four slot holders you’re pretty much scraping the barrel,’’ he said.
“We need to have the best horse we think that can win that race. You need the trainers to be ready for that timing.
“This year it might be the key that gets you that result.
“In Her Time, she was in my last two choices last year. I just couldn’t get those negotiations across the line.
“Redzel’s won the race and Trapeze Artist is a super star so we’re going to need something that’s really high quality and something that’s going to be competitive to beat one of those three.’’