By Ray Hickson
It wasn’t a Group 1 but star five-year-old Pierata has made a statement that he’s the horse to beat in the race that’s bigger than a Group 1 – next month’s $14m TAB Everest.
And he assumed TAB Everest favouritism with his stunning win in the Group 2 $500,000 Bowermans Office Furniture Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday downing Classique Legend and Redzel in a stirring contest.
Trainer Greg Hickman had debated during the week whether he’d run in the heavy conditions most predicted would prevail but on a soft 6 Pierata reigned supreme and now the trainer has some thinking to do about his final step before Australia’s richest race.
“We’ll just wait. We’ll see how he is at home,’’ Hickman said after the win.
“If I think he needs it we will go around (again) or if not he won’t be. He’s as good as he’s ever been so we’ll be in the money somewhere.”
The Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) on October 5 is the final lead-up to the TAB Everest but Hickman has the option to follow Redzel’s path from 2017, and the one the dual Everest champ is following in 2019, and trial between races.
“The race has worked out perfectly, he let down and fought really hard to the line. He is right where we want him,’’ Hickman said.
“In the small field, they tend to be a bit more wary of where they are the jockeys so we just had him that little bit closer so it wasn’t as big an effort as last time.”
Jockey Tommy Berry said he didn’t want to overcomplicate his tactics in the small field.
And the entire, who runs in the Aquis slot in the Everest, again produced the best last 600m in the race running 33.31 (Punter’s Intelligence).
“Greg called me this morning and said what do you want to do. I said there are only five in it, it can’t be that hard,’’ he said.
“But I’m so happy for Greg, he has done such a great job with this horse and he has got an unbelievable group of owners, you’ll see them celebrating. Bring on four weeks time!”
Pierata holds top spot in the TAB Everest market at $5 ahead of Santa Ana Lane, who missed The Shorts, at $6 while Classique Legend, Redzel and Arcadia Queen are all on the $7 line. And fourth placed Graff did his chances of being picked up for the Everest no harm, he’s at $15.
While the Pierata camp were in raptures, connections of the placegetters suggested their charges are on target for the TAB Everest.
Classique Legend, at just his fifth race start, proved to trainer Les Bridge and jockey Nash Rawiller that he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in a month’s time.
Bridge made of a point of saying “it’s not Everest Day today’’ and while he doesn’t show a lot of emotion you could see he had a huge smile inside.
“It’s his fifth run in a race, the others have had a run and that was the difference in the finish,’’ Bridge said.
Rawiller’s excitement was a little easier to spot: “I think from where he’s at and with that under his belt it’s pretty exciting going forward. He can match it with the big boys and that’s something to really look forward to.’’
Redzel’s co-trainer Paul Snowden couldn’t fault the seven-year-old’s performance despite the fact he led and was run down and said it’s all about make it three TAB Everests next month.
Pierata wins the Shorts at Royal Randwick
The gelding will trial 10 days before the Everest and Snowden is adamant he is still the horse they all have to beat.
“He’s ticking over nicely and that’s all that matters. Four weeks to go,’’ he said.
“He’s already done it so that have to beat him still. They are improving types, he just needs to be as good as he was and that’s enough.’’
What the Jockeys said:
Tommy Berry (Pierata): “I went a bit earlier on him than I would have liked, I was trying to get around Home Of The Brave and shut the door on Nash, but he poked his head through anyway. My bloke when he felt Classique Legend come he just surged again. He is such a trier and he knows where the winning post is. Greg and I have been saying all prep that he has come back bigger, stronger and better. And he has. This means so much. It’s not a Group One but there is another one coming I think.”
Nash Rawiller (Classique Legend): “Awesome, awesome performance. He just probably lacked that match fitness against those big boys, but he’s proven today that he can certainly match it with them. It’s pretty exciting going forward. He seems to have come through the run unbelievably well and just looking forward now.”
Kerrin McEvoy (Redzel): “Happy with his run, he knuckled a bit out of the gates, which got him off balance a shade, he soon moved well, we were there at the top of the straight with a good chance and he’s ran well. Knowing the Snowdens they haven’t got him screwed down yet and we’ve got a month before the Everest, so looking forward towards the next race.”
Brenton Avdulla (Graff): “He ran terrific, I think he’s going as good as he can. He started 2L off Pierata at the top of the straight and he finished about a length off him, he’s going great, he’d be a good pick up for anyone for the Everest.”
Glyn Schofield (Home Of The Brave): “I suppose he ran well, he’s been beaten a couple of lengths by those good sprinters.”