By Brad Gray
Les Bridge wouldn’t hear of Classique Legend being beaten in the $15m TAB Everest (1200m) at Randwick, yet even the trainer couldn’t have expected such a dominant display from his brilliant grey.
After Eduardo crossed to lead Nature Strip, running a first 600m in a brutal 33.41s, clocking a 10.05s from the 1000m to the 800m, it was game on for those in the second half of the field and a beautifully judged ride from Kerrin McEvoy saw the five-year-old charge clear to win by 2.5L.
Punters Intelligence further revels that in last year’s TAB Everest, Nature Strip clocked 33.82 first 600m. This year they went two lengths faster again.
Bivouac and Gytrash filled the minors with Haut Brion Her a brave fifth have ridden that hot speed.
“I’ve been telling you for three months, how much start do you want?” gushed Bridge.
“One of my greatest friends was Percy Sykes, who I spent a lot of time with, and he said it’s all in the genes. Some horses just get all the good genes.
“This horse has got a girth on him that deep and he’s just got big a V8 motor. It’s unbelievable.”
Punters shared the confidence of Bridge, sending the son of Not A Single Doubt to the gates as the shortest-priced favourite in The TAB Everest’s history, jumping $4.20 with TAB Fixed Odds.
Three of the four editions of the rich sprinting feature have now been won by McEvoy, and it was a perfectly executed ride from the champion jockey.
None of his rivals got near Classique Legend’s devastating 400-200m of 11.65s, with his 33.30s also the quickest in the race, ahead of Santa Ana Lane (33.35s).
“It was a funny one because I needed to come back behind Trekking to get a slot and then they went quicker,” said McEvoy.
“I just had to ride my race. I looked up at the 600m and they were well in front, they were off. I thought ‘far out, if Nature Strip and his companions are back to their best they are going to take a bit of running down.’
“Full credit to my horse with that cover and that soft time of it early, he was really able to power when I asked him. Soon after straightening I was confident I was going to pick them up.”
“(Les Bridge) is a marvel. He has been great. He doesn’t say too much, he gave me no instructions. I said what I planned to do which is fantastic from a jockeys’ point of view if you’ve got backing from the trainer and he has trained some champions. This horse is at the top of his list.”