The Everest is already everything Racing New South Wales hoped it could become.
Yes, the prize money is gigantic (it’s the most lucrative horse race on turf in the world) but the one thing which catches the eye from the outset is the fact that this race is far more than just a huge pay day.
There has been major controversy throughout the week when polarising radio host Alan Jones took aim at Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron for opposing the idea of projecting the race’s barrier draw on the sails of the Opera House.
I’ve listened to various expert racing opinions on the matter with many throwing blame toward Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys for not removing himself from the Jones-Herron debate.
I’m putting all that who’s right, who’s wrong stuff aside.
What that situation has done is create more chatter and buzz. Make no mistake, the on-air radio scrap and subsequent fall-out will ensure many more sets of eyes find their way to TV screens showing the event when the horses leave the barriers for the $13 million contest.
This event is massive. It’s the jolt in the arm that Sydney racing needed when Spring has always been dominated by Melbourne’s six weeks of Group 1 racing.
It’s a race I have on my bucket list, even just to attend but imagine having a horse going round for a shot at 13 mill…
THE EVEREST (1200m, $13,000,000)
1 REDZEL (Barrier 1) – Kerrin McEvoy for P & P Snowden. $7 (TAB)
The reigning Everest champion has had everything fall into place with a sweet barrier and a seemingly softish track awaiting him. He’s an on-speed horse which is always beneficial on a juicy track however his form is not mirroring last season’s which is why he’s been easy in markets.
2 SANTA ANA LANE (9) – Ben Melham for Anthony Freedman. $8
His past four starts have resulted in two Group 1 victories as well as a Group 2 – pretty handy form which is why Ben Melham’s mount is listed at $8 and among the fancied chances. Things have gone his way in recent runs and they’d need to again but his finishing burst is eye-catching and lethal.
3 LE ROMAIN (11) – Glyn Schofield for Kris Lees. $21
Winning at 1200m will be this guy’s query but the anticipation of a wet track is a major plus. He only received his spot in the race relatively late so whilst he’s a proven Randwick horse, you’d expect him to be a significant roughie when they jump.
4 TRAPEZE ARTIST (6) – Tye Angland for Gerald Ryan. $7
His form this time in has not been to his absolute peak but his class is indisputable. What’s disputable is whether 1200m is his go in life, he’s proven capable for sure but against the premier weight-for-age it’s worth a query. Studs are throwing up a reported $40m for this son of Snitzel – win this and that figure rises again.
5 VEGA MAGIC (7) – Damien Oliver for D & B Hayes & T Dabernig. $7
Ran a brilliant race in last year’s Everest, finishing second after a back and wide trip. A Group 1 Goodwood winner, Vega Magic is one who will likely be praying the wet weather stays away so should you wish to back him, wait until you open the curtains on race morning and hope for some Sydney sunshine.
6 BRAVE SMASH (4) – Hugh Bowman for Darren Weir. $13
Darren Weir’s Japanese recruit was excellent in the 2017 Everest running a dashing third. His effort in the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley was excellent and displayed his true ability. Master preparer Darren Weir has publicly suggested Brave Smash will be better with cut in the deck, which is almost a certainty. Looks a nice each way go.
8 US NAVY FLAG (3) – Ryan Moore for Aidan O’Brien. $8
The first ever international raider joins The Everest. World-renowned trainer Aidan O’Brien prepares this glamorous European multiple Group 1-winner.
We have never seen him race on our shores but the money has been for him since the barrier draw and O’Brien has mastered traveling horses and has won major races in all parts of the world. I’m with him here thanks to his tactical speed and the O’Brien factor.
9 IN HER TIME (8) – Corey Brown for Kris Lees. $11
She needs a slow tempo and probably no rain. Both highly unlikely. No matter how the map looks, a $13m race is sure to attract early aggression so there goes the slow tempo and there’s a 70% chance of rain on Saturday – that’s after a predicted 10mm+ before then. Cannot win.
10 SHOALS (2) – Tim Clark for Anthony Freedman. $7
Has often gone under the radar when experts talk about the megastars of Australian sprinting. The market respects her but there’s no doubt she will need some level of luck to salute. For those who like a flutter mid-race, she is the one to be on should the first half of the race be run at breakneck speed.
11 VIDDORA (12) – Joe Bowditch for Lloyd Kennewell. $15
Great to see this mare get her opportunity. The victory in the Moir Stakes was superb after running second in the same race in 2017. She’s a get-back horse so is another one looking for some early speed and a nice gap in the closing furlong.
12 GRAFF (10) – Brenton Avdulla for Kris Lees. $17
I’m not a fan of three-year-olds in these kind of races. Glamour three-year-old fillies Tulip (fifth), Houtzen (seventh) and She Will Reign (eleventh) had no impact in last year’s event. Graff is an athletic colt but he’s had five starts. Expect him to jump from his awkward barrier 10 at a big price. He is nice and fit and will enjoy carrying less weight than others but not for me.
17 OSBORNE BULLS (5) – Tommy Berry for James Cummings. $18.
A late inclusion after stable mate Home Of The Brave was withdrawn mid-week. His get-back and jet home pattern has made him somewhat of a fan favourite as he’s won eight of his twelve races but this is a huge step-up for the lightly tried five-year-old.
Scratched: Home Of The Brave
Emergencies: Clearly Innocent, Dothraki, Jungle Edge, Pierata, Spright.
1) US Navy Flag $8
2) Brave Smash $13
3) Redzel $7
4) Viddora $15
R1: 1 Ancestry – 7 Champagne Boom – 13 Utzon
R2: 9 Iconoclasm – 8 Sircconi – 1 Comicas
R3: 1 Sunlight – 3 Meryl – 10 Golden Halo
R4: 2 Cool Passion – 1 Booker – 9 Split Lip
R5: 2 Voodoo Lad – 9 Spirit Of Valor – 13 Snitty Kitty
R6: 5 Smart Melody – 4 Thrillster – 7 Amphritite
R7: 2 Jungle Cat – 5 Land Of Plenty – 12 Cliffs Edge
R8: 7 Blair House – 12 Unforgotten – 6 Homesman
R9: 1 The Autumn Sun – 2 Native Soldier – 4 Leonardo Da Hinchi
R10: 4 Prize Money – 1 Big Duke – 8 Brimham Rocks
R3 N1 Sunlight (win)
R5 N2 Voodoo Lad (win)
R7 N2 Jungle Cat (each way)
Enjoy what is explosively becoming one of the most famous and prestigious races in all of world horse racing!