By Ray Hickson
A desire for a fresh face is behind Max Whitby and Neil Werrett’s decision to give boom colt Menari his chance in the $13 million The Everest in October.
The rising four-year-old hasn’t been seen on the track since September but his reputation as a powerful sprinter with Group 1 ability is a good part of the reason he was secured sight unseen this year.
Whitby said it is a risk to lock in a horse who won’t have raced for almost a year when he returns this preparation but is convinced if Gerald Ryan has him right he is the X-Factor.
“We were keen to get a fresh, new horse this year and not go back to the well,’’ Whitby said.
“That’s with great respect to Vega Magic and Redzel and the like. It’s a clean slate and we are confident he is the right horse.
“It would have been great to see him have a run but this race is all about taking the opportunities.’’
Of course Whitby secured Vega Magic in the inaugural Everest and he finished second behind Redzel.
Menari joined the $15 line of TAB betting for Australia’s richest race with the news he’s a confirmed starter behind his stablemate and current favourite Trapeze Artist ($4.50).
Last time we saw Menari on the racecourse he started $2.40 in running third behind Trapeze Artist, who was $41, in the Group 1 Golden Rose over 1400m.
Whitby said Menari’s owner George Altomonte has been keen to run the colt in The Everest and has been bolstered by Gerald Ryan’s enthusiasm about him.
“He had terrific two-year-old form and obviously he is unproven but he showed at two and three he is the type of horse you need,’’ he said.
“He has a devastating turn of foot over the last 200m and Gerald is very bullish about him.
“We took everything into consideration and we just had to make the decision and we’re happy about it.’’
Menari is the ninth confirmed runner for The Everest and the tenth is likely to become much clearer after Chautauqua has his second barrier test at Rosehill on Monday.
Other confirmed runners are Redzel, In Her Time, Trapeze Artist, Shoals, Santa Ana Lane, Brave Smash, English and the recent July Cup winner U S Navy Flag.
Ryan told Racing NSW last week that Menari, who is yet to have a trial this campaign, was due to resume in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) on September 1 and run in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) two weeks later.
Both races were won by Redzel last year.
Whitby said serious consideration was given to waiting until Vega Magic resurfaced later this month but he’s satisfied with the decision making process that was undertaken.
“We moved away from the Europeans very quickly, we always believed that we have the best sprinters in the world racing here,’’ he said.
“We would have liked to have won it last year but we’ll have another crack.’’