By Ray Hickson
Champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy has revealed the reason he chose to stay in the Redzel camp and chase a third TAB Everest over emerging star Classique Legend.
To be frank, he could have gone either way but McEvoy said only needed to see Redzel return to his best first-up, where he ran 56.28 in winning the Concorde Stakes (1000m), to confirm he’d keep the band together.
Three days after that win he rode Classique Legend to a trial win then told connections of both horses he’d be riding Redzel.
As he prepares to partner the seven-year-old in the Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick on Saturday, where he’ll be pitted against Classique Legend and a host of Everest contenders, McEvoy said it was a tough decision but he feels it’s the right one.
“You’ve got a horse like Redzel, who has been remarkable, a two time Everest winner and a young up and comer like Classique Legend,’’ he said.
“One that has been there and done it, and possibly could still do it, and one on the way up that could also do it.
“Everything pointed to him being back in good order in his work and trials before the Concorde. I was a little reserved but wanted to see how he went in the Concorde under race day pressure.
“I thought it was the correct choice to stick with a horse that has proven himself at that level and showed he was back in good form.’’
Trainers Peter and Paul Snowden are following the 2017 blueprint for the $14m TAB Everest by running in the Concorde and The Shorts then skipping the Premiere to use a trial instead.
In 2017 he won all of them, including the trial, while last year a hiccup saw him miss The Shorts.
McEvoy said things couldn’t have gone any more to the script for Redzel first-up in the Concorde and isn’t fazed by striking a wet track at Randwick given his impressive heavy track stats including last year’s Everest.
“It doesn’t really matter to him, he almost goes through it as though he’s handling a good track,’’ he said.
“He has the runs on the board already and had plenty of preparation to build up what’s required to handle a second-up run on a heavy track.
“I wouldn’t think that there would be any qualms on a heavy.’’
Prior to the final field for the Shorts, Redzel was a $6 chance in TAB’s all-in market and $7 to make it three TAB Everests.
Nash Rawiller will take the ride on Classique Legend in The Shorts, and likely on to The TAB Everest, but McEvoy has done most of the grey’s build up including riding him in both barrier trials.
The four-year-old was dynamic in winning the second of those, on the day McEvoy confirmed he would stick with Redzel, at Randwick on September 10.
Given his knowledge of Classique Legend, it’d be remiss not to ask how wary McEvoy is of his now rival.
Redzel win the Concorde Stakes at Randwick on September 7
“He’s a very classy horse, he’s a lightly raced horse so you can form the opinion he has to do it at this level but he has got an old head on young shoulders,’’ McEvoy said.
Classique Legend has won three of his four starts with the lone miss coming in the Listed Darby Munro (1200m) on a heavy 8 at Rosehill in March.
In that race McEvoy elected to press the button to try and offset a wide alley but he was stranded deep and forced to work triple time and only weakened late to be beaten half a length.
“The day he was beaten he didn’t have a great run,’’ he said.
“You can look at it and say he was beaten on a heavy track but he could well be fine. He is going to hold his own no doubt but we will find out more come race time.
“I sat on him a heap of times before making the decision and he’s going great.
“It still remains to be seen what his best racing distance is, he’s open to a lot of things and I’m sure Les (Bridge) and the team are still working that out as well.’’