Slot Holder: Max Whitby & Neil Werrett
Toronado (IRE) – She’s Got Gears
Trainer: Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes
Owners: R & C Legh Racing Pty Ltd, Gilgai Farm, B & C Thoroughbreds Pty Ltd, Mr C H Madden, Mrs J G Madden, Werrett Bloodstock Pty Ltd, Encompass Bloodstock, Mr P C Orton
Regular jockey: Tommy Berry
There’s been a boom on Masked Crusader seemingly his whole life and after promising plenty in his first few starts he stepped up to the big stage in early 2021 to show what he’s made of.
It’s fair to say his spring was a bit forgettable last year and plenty wondered whether the hype was justified.
A first-up Group 3 win in the Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) made everyone stand up and take notice then he jumped straight into Group 1 weight-for-age company with a slashing third in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) in March.
He claimed his first Group 1 win in the same month taking out the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley then chased home Nature Strip in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at The Star Championships.
Part-owner Rupert Legh has been involved in each edition of the Everest to date – via his star sprinter Chautauqua, three time contender Santa Ana Lane and Tofane – and he said being locked into the slot owned by Max Whitby and Neil Werrett early takes the pressure off and allows you to enjoy the experience.
Werrett and another co-slot owner Colin Madden are also partners in the ownership of Masked Crusader.
“I was taking to John (Hawkes) about it and he couldn’t agree more that it’s good to get it off the table and to go and enjoy the journey,” Legh said.
“You have a target race and it makes it easier when you are planning a horse’s program.”
The Whitby/Werrett slot has had mixed results in the four editions of the Everest so far – they finished second in the inaugural running with Vega Magic, fifth in 2018 with Graff, 10th in 2019 with Sunlight while last year Trekking finished fourth.
“He’s a four-year-old that is lightly raced and on the up and I’m happy I’m racing it with my partners who have an interest in it,” Whitby said.