By Ray Hickson
TAB Everest champ Classique Legend has a bit of work to do before trainer Les Bridge sends him back to the races but he showed jockey Kerrin McEvoy he’s on the right track to defend his crown in winning a trial at Randwick on Friday.
At his first appearance in Sydney since winning the $15 million race last year, the grey recorded a time of 58.52 as he held off fellow Everest rival Lost And Running in a 1000m course proper heat with the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained I Am Superman finished in third.
Libertini, another Everest hopeful, had a quiet trial finishing near the tail.
Following a debrief with McEvoy, Bridge decided he won’t send Classique Legend to next week’s The Shorts and will delay his return to the track until the Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) on October 2.
“After the trial both Les and I were of the opinion he’s just a bit behind in fitness but he’s still trialled up well,’’ McEvoy said.
“Les wanted to get him closer to his peak than go to the races first-up and have him underdone. That’s the way Les has decided to move forward and I’m right behind the decision.
“Overall we’re really pleased, it’s just been a slight change of tack but moving forward it’s the best decision for the horse.”
McEvoy settled Classique Legend in third place in the trial and took a gap between I Am Superman and Lost And Running at about the 200m to hit the lead and he nudged the gelding along to win narrowly.
It was clear that Lost And Running was travelling strongly on his outside but McEvoy said he was tested out a little to get the benefit of the trial and to make sure all is well in his first major test since returning from Hong Kong.
He reported that Classique Legend had a good blow after the trial and took a bit of time to recover, which helped form the decision to give him a bit more work.
In comparing to the preparation that took the six-year-old to Everest glory last year, McEvoy pointed out he was able to run in the Bob Charley AO Stakes in June then remain in the stable until his Everest campaign whereas this year he only arrived back in Sydney around the week of that race.
“Going into last year he was able to have that mid year run and stay in training and have a good base for it. This year is different,’’ he said.
“He had a setback in Hong Kong then had to down tools and come back. This trial told us he’s just needing that extra trial before he goes to the races.
“His action was good, his attitude was good. We’re splitting hairs here because they still ran 58 and change. There were still a lot of pluses there and he pleased me.”
While we’ll have to wait a couple of extra weeks to see Classique Legend, Lost And Running showed he’s ready for his big test in the Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts (1100m) on Saturday week.
And Eduardo, one of his rivals in what is shaping as a cracking edition of The Shorts, won a 740m heat in 43.82 later in the morning and is also all set to press for an Everest slot.