By Ray Hickson
Trainer Lloyd Kennewell calls Viddora the ‘people’s horse’, such has been the wave of late support for her to take her place in The TAB Everest.
While grateful for the public backing, when it came to convincing slot holder Damion Flower he hoped the mare’s form would do the talking and they could come to an arrangement.
“I’ve never seen so much action on social media in the last few days it’s been crazy,’’ Kennewell said.
“She’s probably been a little under rated but she is the people’s horse. If you look back through her form she’s had one bad run in the last two years.’’
Of course Flower’s slot became available when it was decided by English’s owners that her form didn’t warrant running in the $13 million race.
Kennewell has been keen on The Everest for 12 months, having failed to secure a deal with Viddora following last year’s unlucky second to She Will Reign in the Moir.
Subsequently she’s proven herself one of the best sprinters in the country with wins in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes, the Magic Millions Snippets and the Moir.
But it’s her failure in the Goodwood in May that probably counted against her in the minds of slot holders.
“We haven’t deviated from our plan,’’ Kennewell said.
“We went in very confident last week, it was a Group 1 and a strong race but we knew the mare was 110 per cent going into it. Take all the politics out of it, we think she was the logical choice.’’
One issue that didn’t come up when negotiating with Flower is that stable jockey Joe Bowditch will retain the ride on Viddora, who is a $13 chance with TAB.
Kennewell said he has the utmost confidence in the no-nonsense rider.
“He knows the horse very well and more importantly he rides horses in all races according to how I want them ridden,’’ he said.
“He has a pretty open mind about riding her, she can be slow away sometimes and if that’s the case I give him free rein to do what he likes. He’s not a big head, he just wants to go there and get the job done.’’
Viddora will have one more serious gallop before lining up in the Everest at Royal Randwick on October 13, she’s proven at 1200m and Kennewell said there is natural improvement fitness wise from the first-up win.
Flower said having to replace English so late after coming to an early arrangement is regrettable but is grateful to the mare’s owners for approaching him and making the decision.
“Right at the start with Charles Kelly, who has been fantastic, he said if she doesn’t come up being a six-year-old mare we would be happy for you to get another horse,’’ Flower said.
“Obviously we didn’t want that to happen but he said if she didn’t come up around Premiere Stakes time their decision would be made and I’d go along with it.
“You want the best outcome, I’m a competitor and I don’t want a horse to just go around. I firmly believe (Viddora) can win this race.’’
Interestingly, Flower said he gave fleeting thought to running a horse he has an interest in, three-year-old Sandbar, if he couldn’t come to an arrangement after English’s withdrawal.
But he and trainer Brad Widdup have had a long range plan for Sandbar to line up in next year’s Everest and is sticking with it.
“I gave people the deadline and if no-one was coming to the party I thought I might have to speak to the Sandbar owners,’’ he said.
“As soon as I thought it I knew it was the wrong thing. For a split second I’m thinking that then I thought ‘what would you do if you owned him 100 per cent?’
“’No, it’s next year, Brad said it’s next year’. He just raced in the Golden Rose and those horses were bigger and mature and this is weight-for-age against older horses.’’