<b>By Ray Hickson</b>
Slot holder Damion Flower says he won’t hesitate to step up the chase for an international out of the Royal Ascot carnival to run for him in The Everest if he’s impressed by what he sees.
Godolphin’s super sprinter Harry Angel has been in Flower’s sights already and he’s also eyeing the Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia who will vie for back-to-back wins in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m) just after midnight on Wednesday morning.
“If she came out and blasted them she’d be on my radar no doubt in the world,’’ Flower said.
“I made contact with (owner) Barbara Banke about Lady Aurelia last year and it wasn’t the right time.’’
Lady Aurelia faces off with Battaash, who returned with a win in the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month, Godolphin’s Blue Point and a quartet from the Aidan O’Brien stable.
O’Brien has publicly stated he’s interested in finding a horse to tackle the $13 million sprint at Royal Randwick on October 13 and Coolmore does own a slot that would be available to him.
Flower said while Lady Aurelia is considered a slight risk at 1200m in the UK she’s the style of horse that really appeals to him as an Everest candidate.
“She is a horse that, in every race, has raced on a fast speed and sprinted off that fast speed,’’ he said.
“She’s an exceptional type of filly and you need that to win a weight for age race.’’
Plan A when he purchased an Everest slot was to have a horse run in his own colours and Flower isn’t giving up on that dream happening in the future.
He revealed his promising colt Sandbar is a horse he has pegged as a possible future Everest contender and, if he hasn’t filled his slot, could get a call up if he explodes in the early spring.
“It’s a hard feat, but I have to have a reserve for Sandbar because he’s a Group horse any day of the week,’’ he said.
“It might be a year too early for him but I’m keeping it open a bit. Everything he did was on his first prep and he’s come back in and looks terrific.
“He’s on the reserve bench at the moment and I wouldn’t be afraid if he came back and measured up to go with it.’’
Sky Thoroughbred Central’s Lizzie Jelfs is in the UK for the Royal Ascot carnival and has given a rundown on the horses she’s keeping an eye on as potential Everest contenders from the week.
Jelfs said the three races that could produce an Everest runner are The King’s Stand, the Commonwealth Cup on Friday and the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday.
King’s Stand Stakes (1000m)
“I really like Battaash but he’s only been tried over six furlongs early in his career and he has a few antics. He can be a bit fiery and whether he’s right horse to be bringing over but I think he is a very good horse,’’ she said.
“I feel he’s going to be able to get the six on a flat track in an Everest. He also had a wind operation, he won the Prix De l’Abbaye with an entrapped epiglottis.
“There’s got to be some form of improvement in him, he might be a bit more sensible and I think he’s going to be one of the better sprinters coming out of the King’s Stand.
“Lady Aurelia is always a question mark over six furlongs but we have to remember Randwick is reasonably flat whereas Ascot has the dips and rises so it’s a stiff five.
Commonwealth Cup (1200m)
“Sioux Nation is a really nice galloper. I also don’t mind a horse like Equilateral. He’s a very progressive type and is really sensible. You have to have the right frame of mind to travel and run in these types of races.
“(Trainer) Charlie Hills might be saying to James McDonald to have a feel of the horse and see if he’s ready to go to a race like the Everest.’’
Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m)
“Harry Angel is a lovely horse, he definitely put the writing on the wall last year. I don’t think there’s much between him and Kementari over a sprint distance.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t try Redkirk Warrior fresh into an Everest. He ran in the Bobbie Lewis first-up and then ran in the Everest.
“Even if he runs in the July Cup he could have a trial and run in the Everest and he’d be fresh as anything and have that residual fitness.’’
Australian sprinter Merchant Navy is also engaged in the Diamond Jubilee, though is scheduled to retire to stud this spring, and Wesley Ward also has The Everest in the back of his mind for Bound For Nowhere.