By Ray Hickson
A new favourite, a new contender and a confirmation pending on the long running Nature Strip saga.
The twists and turns of The TAB Everest continue. Defending champ Redzel, at home in his box, assumed favouritism for the first time since June 8 with the defeat of Trapeze Artist in the Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill.
“While Trapeze Artist was far from disgraced in the Theo Marks, the fact is he was beaten by a horse which, as of yet, is not in the TAB Everest,’’ TAB’s Gerard Middleton said.
“Redzel put the runs on the board straight away this campaign with a victory in the Concorde so our bookies felt he deserved to be back at the top of the market.’’
Godolphin import Home Of The Brave has thrown his hat in the ring as a worthy contender, firming from $51 to $13 with TAB after he made the Theo Marks his own.
While in Melbourne, Nature Strip’s narrow track record win in the McEwen Stakes (1000m), with Shoals some four to five lengths behind him, appears to have been enough for him to snap up the Australian Turf Club’s slot.
“TAB bookies are not yet convinced Nature Strip could run out a strong 1200m so he drifted from $8 to $9 despite winning the McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley,’’ he said.
“The punters certainly love Nature Strip though as he has gone past Vega Magic to be clearly the second best backed in the market with TAB, with only Trapeze Artist holding more.’’
Everest Report Card – September 8
Trapeze Artist (trainer Gerald Ryan; slot holder Aquis Farm)
TAB: $4.50 out to $6
An outstanding return from the three-time Group 1 winner under difficult conditions, he conceded 3.5kg or more to the entire field and produced some excellent sectionals. He settled some six lengths off the leader and after looming up about 300m out his run ended late but he should lose no fans on the effort.
He’s not a noted heavy track performer and while he clearly handles the ground okay it’s tough to sprint off a solid tempo with 61kg. It’s three weeks until his next run in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick and you’d have to mark him as being on target at this stage of proceedings.
Shoals (trainer Anthony Freedman; slot holder The Star)
TAB: $15 out to $17
The job of chasing a 1000m specialist around Moonee Valley was never going to be easy but as a starting point it was probably an ideal scenario for Shoals. On the turn she conceded some five or six lengths to Nature Strip and probably made a length or so on him to the line.
That was her first start in a 1000m race and she hit the line well enough to be comfortable knowing she’ll appreciate a truly run 1200m come The Everest. Where she goes to next is yet to be confirmed, there’s a 1200m mares race at Caulfield in two weeks, the Moir but that’s 1000m again and the Premiere Stakes (1200m).
This week’s runners
There’ll be plenty of movement in the market after four of the 11 (including Nature Strip) confirmed runners clash in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick.
Redzel will be there aiming to complete the Concorde-Shorts double for the second year running, Invincible Star faces an important test, we see English for the first time while we have a look at how Victorian sprinter Brave Smash is measuring up as well.