By Ray Hickson
Brave Smash’s stocks in The TAB Everest don’t depend on his performance at Randwick on Saturday but connections have set what they consider a pass mark.
Australian Bloodstock director Jamie Lovett said all reports around the six-year-old’s progress towards the Group 2 $200,000 The Shorts (1100m) are positive but there’s still plenty of petrol in the tank a month out from The Everest.
It’ll be jockey Hugh Bowman’s first ride on Brave Smash in a race that contains one third of The Everest field including defending champ and current favourite Redzel.
“At 1100m you don’t want to be beaten five or six (lengths) or you’re in a bit of trouble,’’ Lovett said.
“I’d love to be finishing on their heels. Another 100m in a really brutally run Everest, this year there’s no other way it can be run with the speed in the race, it will be ideal.
“It’ll be nice to get him on a track with a bit of cut in it and get Hugh on board to get a feel for him. Hopefully he runs a good race and gives us reason to be confident going forward.’’
Brave Smash kicked off his second Everest campaign running third behind Shorts rival Ball Of Muscle at Caulfield on September 1.
Lovett said he feels the gelding needs to find an extra length or so on his third placing in the inaugural Everest to be a winning chance in the $13 million feature this year and has great faith in trainer Darren Weir to achieve it.
“Talking to Weiry he’ll need this run then we’ll assess whether he has another run, I’d say he will, before the Everest when the shades will go on,’’ he said.
“We’ve worked out he’s not a horse you can go deep into a preparation, he’s most effective kept on the fresh side.
“I loved his first-up run knowing how soft he was going in.
“Come Everest day when he’s had another run or two under his belt I’d be confident we can run well.
“On what I’ve seen he’s going every bit as good (as last year) and I’ll tell you Saturday if he is going better.’’
Brave Smash is on the fourth line of betting in The Shorts at $8.50 behind the other three confirmed Everest runners Redzel ($1.80), English ($5) and Invincible Star ($5.50).
He’s running in the Chris Waller Racing slot in The Everest where he’s a $26 chance and his final lead up is likely to be the Premiere Stakes (1200m) in two weeks.
Lovett is hoping the return to Sydney will spark a resurgence in classy stayer Big Duke as he heads towards The Metropolitan.
In five Sydney starts the seven-year-old has posted three wins plus placings in last year’s Sydney Cup and Metropolitan but he’s finished closer last than first in his two runs back in Melbourne.
Last time he travelled to Sydney he made a six-length improvement and a similar showing in the Group 3 $160,000 The Agency Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) would see him finish closer than his $41 early price with TAB suggests.
“I’d like to see him start to be competitive,’’ Lovett said.
“It’s all right to say they are lead up runs but they have to show you something. He’s got a really good record in Sydney on that leg so it will be interesting to see if he does put his hand up.’’
It’s expected Big Duke will be ridden conservatively from the wide alley and be allowed to find the line.