By Ray Hickson
Of all the scenarios trainer Tony McEvoy imagined for Sunlight’s first-up passage on a TAB Everest preparation, sitting three wide in a field of six was never one of them.
That’s what he’s resigned himself to expecting in Saturday’s Group 3 $160,000 Forum Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick.
But there’ll be no over-reaction, McEvoy said, and he’ll be relying on jockey Luke Currie to have a bit of luck and make the right split second decision to avoid working too hard.
“It’s not ideal with the speed inside of her,’’ he said.
“We won’t change too much, we’ll just ride her as she is. She might be three deep and it looks like she will have a tough run.
“I think Redzel and Zoustyle will go to the front and that leave us to go the front, three deep or back last.
“She won’t be getting back at her first run that’s for sure.’’
McEvoy, who has just entered a training partnership with his son Calvin, has said since Sunlight won the first of her two trials – the latest over fellow Everest runner Classique Legend – leading into the Concorde that he doesn’t anticipate a first-up win.
That’s not saying she can’t win, she’s only missed a top three finish once in 16 starts and has won 10 races so is always competitive, but McEvoy has always warned she gets better and better with racing.
She’s headed to the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) in two weeks then the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) on October 5 before the $14m TAB Everest (1200m) on October 19 where she races in the Max Whitby/Neil Werrett slot.
Then possibly the inaugural $7.5m The Golden Eagle (1500m) two weeks later.
“She is vulnerable first-up so we aren’t panicking about it, and if she’d drawn one she probably can’t win first-up anyway,’’ he said.
“We’re on the right track and she looks like she is going really well.
“This is just the first step to where we want to go. She will run a good race and as long as she doesn’t get flattened that’ll be fine.’’
Sunlight was the $5 second favourite in the Concorde with TAB behind Nature Strip, who doesn’t have an Everest slot, and is $11 in the TAB Everest all-in market.
One of the mare’s first-up defeats came at the hands of Nature Strip over 1050m in Adelaide at the end of July last year and it was a six length margin between them.
So what sort of guide is that clash to their meeting on Saturday?
“None whatsoever,’’ McEvoy said.
“You’ve got to dismiss that because she wasn’t ready and he’d raced all winter. He was wound up like a rubber band that day.’’
While McEvoy isn’t changing Sunlight’s racing pattern on Saturday he said he’ll be mixing it up with Pretty Brazen in the Strawberry Hill Stud Handicap (1300m).
Sunlight wins a trial at Randwick on August 27
The filly led the Silver Shadow field up at Randwick two weeks ago at a hectic tempo, running the first 600m in 34.77 (Punter’s Intelligence), before weakening to be beaten nine lengths by Libertini.
“I’ll be making a notice to the stewards that she has to be ridden differently to last time,’’ McEvoy said.
“With blinkers on Luke dug her out and got taken on and didn’t hand up, they nearly broke a track record so she had no alternative but to weaken.
“I’ve taken the blinkers off and I want her ridden quieter.’’
Pretty Brazen, who almost beat Microphone on debut, has been punished for that last start flop in the market sitting at $19.
McEvoy said Saturday’s race is a crossroad for her campaign.
“She bounced out of it and hasn’t left an oat but if she doesn’t run well in this race she’s going straight back to Melbourne,’’ he said.