Punter’s Pal – 2019 The TAB Everest

By Ray Hickson and Brad Gray

All the slots are filled, the lead up races run, the barriers drawn. It’s time for the 2019 $14m The TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Here’s nothing but quotes from the trainer and jockey for every runner in the third edition of Australia’s richest race.

1. SANTA ANA LANE (Slot Holder: TAB)

Sam (for Anthony) Freedman: “He’s a horse that always requires luck and Saturday will be no different. He’s second-up on the weekend and he was second-up in the TJ and that was his most emphatic victory, it was very dominant. We feel we have him in as good a form as that day and if the race can be run in similar circumstances with a strong pace and a fair track, and Mark can work his way off the inside, hopefully we can see a similar result.”

Mark Zahra: “I think he has the score on the board in the last season at least. There are a few new ones there putting the hand up but he has the mantle. He just needs a genuine speed, his turn of foot is exhilarating coming from the back. If they are going too slow up front and it makes it impossible to win from a bit further back that’s probably going to be his only undoing. But with Nature Strip and Redzel it should be genuine enough, as long as that happens we will have every chance.”

2. PIERATA (Aquis)

Greg Hickman and Tommy Berry (Pic: Steve Hart).

Greg Hickman: “When he ran those sectionals first-up I couldn’t believe it, it makes your hair stand up. All I know is he will be in for a fight. I’d love it if he was where he was (in the run) last year when he won the Sydney Stakes. As long as he gets the chance, gets put into the race at the right time. I have a confident jockey and a fit and well horse, put him in the right position and if he finishes like he did in his first run he will be very hard to beat.’’

Tommy Berry: “I always thought his first and his third-up run would be his best. He was able to beat Redzel and Classique Legend and beat them well and I thought that would be the weakest of his three runs. He’s had the month between runs and he’s freshened up really well. What needs to happen for him is what three quarters of the field needs and that’s speed on. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue, he just has to get into a nice rhythm.’’

3. REDZEL (Yulong Investments)

Peter* & Paul Snowden: “He has the score on the board but it means nothing when they go to the gates on Saturday. He doesn’t necessarily have to lead. Last year I think the weather really played into his hands, he was the only leader in the race and got a soft time in front. It’s about judging the pace, it’s not how fast you go early it’s how fast you finish. There’s some good backmarkers there so you have to be mindful you’re not going out of the comfort zone too early in the race. I’m happy with the horse, Paul and I said to ourselves during the week he’s probably as good as we’ve had him before and if that’s good enough so be it.”

Kerrin McEvoy: “His form since he’s come back has been better than last prep, everything says he’s back on song and he’s had that nice little let up into this Everest run. It’s a great line up but I’m happy with how our horse has been doing it. You still have to do everything right, begin well, and be on top of the energy you are using in the early stages. Tactics are going to be vital. He just needs a fair roll of the dice and we will be there giving our best over the last two furlongs.’’

4. NATURE STRIP (James Harron)

Chris Waller: “He’s not the best of beginners, he can he half a length slow, so (the barrier) gives us the option to just gradually find his stride. If you draw one and you’re half a length slow, especially in a race like the Everest, straight away someone will grab the fence and take your position. It will allow Tim Clark to roll across gently, I guess find the front and that way he will be in his own rhythm and run his race without being fired up. Obviously he will have to be going at a pretty high speed to cross an Everest field but that’s the plan.’’

Jockey Tim Clark . (Pic: Bradley Photos).

Tim Clark: “For him to run a strong 1200m it’s important to get the first half of the race right. Being drawn out there we can take our time and get him travelling comfortably. I can stay away from the other horses for the first 500m if I want to. There’s no need to rush across and get to the fence or outside the leader after a furlong, I can do it in my own time. I think everyone is going to be expecting me to go forward and probably looking for me a bit. For once he is going into a race with not a lot of pressure or expectation on him apart from myself and the connections. We can go there and enjoy it and hopefully he can surprise the doubters.’’

5. TREKKING (Melbourne Racing Club)

James Cummings: “To think 12 months ago he was running in lowly Listed races just to get that stakes win. Now we’re able to accelerate him to win a Stradbroke his next preparation, and Josh won the Luskin Star Stakes coming through the grades with him. This horse won a Schillaci by half a length last time and he’s 20/1. It gives you an indication about the strength of the Everest.”

Josh Parr: “He’s won his place in the field, a very exciting race, and he’s well and truly in the event. He’s a horse we know can run a strong seven furlongs, Saturday is 1200m but obviously a very strongly run 1200m so he could be the strong horse late. I’m really pleased with the draw, speed drawn out wide and barriers one and two look like mid to backmarkers. It’s perfect, judging on the speed the first 200m of the race will determine how close I am to the speed.’’

6. CLASSIQUE LEGEND (Bon Ho & Carmel Size Racing)

Les Bridge: “I was disappointed I didn’t win but I wasn’t disappointed in the horse. When you analyse the race they slowed from the half mile to the turn which made it a little hard for backmarkers. It will be a truly run race on Saturday, you can’t say they are good things in a field like that because there are too many good horses. What I am saying is he’s as fit as I can get him and I think he will run really well.’’

Nash Rawiller: “I think he is primed and ready to go. He’s definitely improved a lot since his last run. The tempo was against him, whether his first-up run was against him and flattened him a bit I don’t know but he has come ahead in leaps and bounds. The couple of runs he’s had now have turned him from a boy to a man. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the horse. I wouldn’t swap rides with anything, it’s just whether it pans out for us on the day.”

7. TEN SOVEREIGNS (Coolmore)

Jockey Ryan Moore (Pic: Grant Guy)

Aidan O’Brien: “He is in good form, we have been very happy with him since he arrived in Australia and everything has gone according to plan since he ran last time.”

Ryan Moore: “Ten Sovereigns is a very talented, high class beautiful three-year-old colt with a fantastic mind. He’s lightly raced and I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet. The Everest is a top quality race and really it’s a tough ask for an inexperienced colt to travel down to take on many of the best sprinters in Australia and therefore anywhere else, on their terms. If he runs his best race, hopefully he’ll go very well.”

8. ALIZEE (Godolphin)

James Cummings: “We’ve tailor made her campaign. If we are able to get up and win it then it will be on account of trying to do things a little differently with her and so far she’s responded and shown us the signs we’ve needed to see that she’s really thriving. She hasn’t been beaten in a six furlong sprint for two seasons, I think she is well and truly a powerful sprinting horse that’s got the credentials to be in the mix and, if she can come with one her grand final performances like we’ve seen in the past, she will be storming home making a big impression on this race.

Hugh Bowman: “It’s a little bit like when I was riding Winx, although the pressure is different because she was expected to win. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her perform like Santa Ana Lane did in the TJ Smith, it really wouldn’t. She’s not expected to do that, I think she can, but my job is to get Alizee to run as well as I can. I’m going to need circumstances to fall my way to a degree, circumstances which are out of my control, and that has to be realised as well.’’

9. SUNLIGHT (Max Whitby/Neil Werrett)

Tony* & Calvin McEvoy: “The deeper she gets into a prep the better she goes. The run in the Moir stakes really needs to be looked at, the pressure she was under throughout to keep up at 1000m. For her to keep coming and to back it up in the Gilgai showed me she is where she needs to be. She’ll race in her normal manner, if they don’t go hard she will lead but if they do she will sit on the back of them.”

Trainer Tony McEvoy (Pic: Steve Hart).

Luke Currie: “She was good the other day at Flemington and she still had a bit of improvement in her. That win gives her a bit of confidence going into the Everest. She’s on the inside of the speed so she will go forward from there and land in a good spot. A lot depends on Nature Strip and what he does. If he steams across we probably have to take a sit behind it, I’d be happy to take it up and lead from that draw if he doesn’t. If you end up in that box seat you’re relying on a bit of luck from there so she will be afforded a nice run.’’

10. IN HER TIME (Inglis)

Kris Lees: “It’s a 1200m race but you’d want to be spot on, that said she is a mare who has excelled first-up. She’s had numerous trials and jump outs and some good gallops so she’s ready. It looks a genuine race with Nature Strip in there, every horse is going to get their chance. She can take up a forward position if there’s no tempo.’’

Brenton Avdulla: “She seems pretty cruisy, everything I’ve had to do with her she’s been push button. She’s a Group 1 winner fresh, a Group 1 winner a couple of runs ago, she was just beaten at 1200m up the straight by Santa Ana Lane. The trial gave us some confidence, Redzel has the score on the board this time in and I thought she trialled every bit as well as he did and she has a bit more improvement. If she puts her best foot forward she will be competitive.”

11. ARCADIA QUEEN (The Star)

Chris Waller: “Arcadia Queen has done an amazing job in WA and she has shown Sydney she can win here. She’s only a young horse being a four-year-old, she has a lot of upside and I think a lot of quality. I guess she is a little vulnerable at 1200m but she will certainly be strong at the end of the race. (Barrier 3) should allow her to find a nice comfort zone and I guess be in a midfield position, we won’t be dragging her back any further. It gives us options to stay off the fence and find a nice rhythm again and make sure she is strong late.’’

James McDonald: “She’s a lovely mare, she hasn’t put a foot wrong to date. This is her toughest task obviously in a star studded line up. Whether she is adaptable over six furlongs against the world’s best sprinters I’m not too sure but she is a very good racehorse and her record speaks for itself. She was very good first-up, she will have to improve off it again but I’m sure Chris kept something in the locker and has left no stone unturned.”

12. YES YES YES (Chris Waller Racing)

Glen Boss and Chris Waller. (Pic: Steve Hart).

Chris Waller: “He’s the horse that has to go to a new height in terms of age, the others have been there and done it. He has the most upside of all of them. (Where he’s drawn) gives Glen Boss the option to find a bit of cover but also get out and get going when he needs to with his light weight. Let’s hope he can win with a bit to spare and that says he’s better than normal with that weight advantage he’s got.’’

Glen Boss: “He gets 5.5 kilos and there’s every chance he is on an upward spiral. He’s had a hard run over 1400m and is coming back to six (furlongs), blinkers on. He is a good three-year-old, he’s been highly touted from a very young age. Chris wouldn’t put him in unless he genuinely thought he could run top three. There’s Coolmores and other races that these horses can run in so he thinks the horse can win.’’