By Ray Hickson
The Everest will be over in less than 70 seconds and champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy says in that limited time there’s no room for error.
While McEvoy is regarded as one of the best jockeys in the world in staying races he has won 14 career Group 1s at 1400m or less.
As he prepares to ride Redzel in the $10 million The TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday, McEvoy gave an insight into the “different mindset’’ you need to have in sprint majors.
“It’s a dynamic race and we’re talking some of the fastest horses in the world,’’ McEvoy said.
“You have to be on your game and every inch counts is the mindset you need to go out with.
“It’s important to make the right decisions when you’re only talking a minute 10 or a minute nine of your time.’’
By comparison, it takes around three minutes and 25 seconds to win a Melbourne Cup.
McEvoy is, of course, the reigning Melbourne Cup (3200m) winning rider with Almandin handing him a second Cup last November some 16 years after his first on Brew.
His latest Group 1 success was at the other end of the spectrum as he guided Everest rival She Will Reign from the back of the field around the Moonee Valley 1000m in the Moir Stakes.
“My preference is probably staying races but I have a good record in sprint trips of late as well,’’ he said.
“That extra two minutes is a long time when you’re on the back of a horse.’’
Redzel, a $7.50 chance, was selected by James Harron to run in The Everest and has won two of the major lead up races in the Concorde Stakes and The Shorts.
McEvoy said from barrier four a horse like Redzel allows him a few options because he can race in the first half of the field or on the speed if desired but that also makes the ride that little bit trickier.
“You need to have the finger on the pulse in terms of the petrol gauge and how quick you are going,’’ he said.
“Your decision making influences the speed of the race. It’s a crucial job when you’re on a front runner or a horse that’s up on the pace.
“It’s all about positioning and momentum, and energy use through that first past is going to determine how you finish in the last part.
“It’s crucial to have your thinking cap on during the race and finely in tune with what your horse can and can’t do and what he’s enjoying doing and to try to get him enjoying his racing.
“That’s what my horse has shown he’s doing in the last prep or so.’’
McEvoy has only had four rides on Redzel for three wins and a very close second (to English in the Challenge Stakes in March).
He partnered the five-year-old in his final gallop prior to The Everest on Tuesday morning and left just as happy as after his strong trial win a week earlier.
“He’s a happy horse, he’s a relaxed horse and his work on Tuesday morning showed he’s in a good frame of mind,’’ McEvoy said.
“He switches on when you need him to and he definitely saves his best for race day. He’s gone to a new level and I’m pretty excited to be on him.’’