By Ray Hickson
For just a moment, James Harron wondered whether playing the patient game was the right move to secure a winning chance in the $15m TAB Everest.
It took 67 seconds or so at Randwick last Saturday for him to know Libertini was that horse.
Then Harron had to convince Libertini’s owners Gerry Harvey and John Singleton to partner with his syndicate as the Chris Waller Racing group also made a play for the mare.
The four-year-old’s stunning Premiere Stakes win vaulted her from a $34 afterthought into $7 and all of a sudden a leading chance and after a couple of days negotiating Harron sealed the deal.
“We were waiting to see something like that really jump out of the ground,’’ Harron said.
“She couldn’t have been more impressive and if she can repeat that performance on Saturday week she will be very hard to beat.”
Redzel’s win in the inaugural TAB Everest in 2017 has already taken Harron to the top of the mountain and each year since the game has become more strategic.
While the waiting game was starting to get tense this year, Harron said Libertini’s win in one of the major Everest lead up races over the deposed favourite Nature Strip and the new favourite Classique Legend vindicated that decision.
“In recent years it has (paid to be patient), you’ve got to hold your nerve a little bit but you do start to question it as you go,’’ Harron said.
“You could have had a horse that already has a slot in the Everest win (the Premiere) and it makes it difficult because you are essentially taking a horse that runs second or third and you’re probably not going to turn the tables.
“To have a horse that was fresh on scene and beating two horses right in the market with runs under their belts it was a huge performance.”
Harron revealed he considered snapping Libertini up for last year’s TAB Everest on the back of her sensational first-up Silver Shadow Stakes win where she also broke 1:08 for the 1200m.
It’s fair to say she didn’t repeat the dazzling performance again until last Saturday and Harron said the patience of Harvey and Singleton and trainer Anthony Cummings might be about to pay off.
“We had our eye firmly on her last year, it seemed to all come a bit too soon for her but they’ve looked after her and you can already see they are going to reap the rewards,’’ he said.
Harvey’s racing manager Luke McDonald, who completed the deal with Harron on Tuesday, said they took a calculated risk by producing her first-up in the Premiere Stakes.
Libertini wins the Premiere Stakes
It was an all or nothing approach to securing a slot and McDonald said the team at Strawberry Hill Stud deserve a lot of credit for the condition she came back to the Cummings stable in to lay the platform for the first-up win.
“We expected her to run well, she’s come back enormous,’’ he said.
“Strawberry Hill spelled her for a good three months and got all those one per cents right before she came back to the stable.
“If she didn’t perform on Premiere Stakes Day obviously she wouldn’t get a slot and we’d head in another direction.
“Anthony has done a great job conditioning her and come Everest Day she is going to be 100 per cent.”