Runner-by-runner preview and tips for The Everest

The best sprinters in the land line up on Saturday with a remarkable $15 million in prizemoney up for grabs in The Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick.

The track is rated a Good 4 with the rail in the True.

Nature Strip is the fastest horse in the race and should take up the running and all eyes will be on barrier 5 to see how he jumps. Dollar For Dollar will push up from the inside draw while Nature Strip’s stablemate Haut Brion Her can take a trail. Eduardo will also be up on the speed as well from barrier 9.

The riders on Gytrash and Bivouac will likely look to get some cover just off the pace. Libertini meanwhile will need a fair bit of luck from barrier 12 unless they decide to ride the mare conservatively.

VIEW A FULL ODDS COMPARISON AT PUNTERS.COM.AU

1. NATURE STRIP

Forrest Gump could’ve been talking about Nature Strip when he said you never know what you’re going to get. His best has him as the champion racehorse in the country, but he’s also susceptible to putting in a shocker. He’s been beaten in his two runs so far this preparation. He was no match for Gytrash in the Concorde, continuing his first-up blues. He then had an issue at the trials, throwing off JMac, before finishing out of the placings in the Premiere. He did run a sub-10 sectional earlier in the race, but I’m not convinced that accounted for his disappointing run. A post-race vet examination which revealed mucus may have been more telling. He finished fourth in this race last year and was only beaten 1.3L in a brave frontrunning performance given the record-breaking time for the race.

TAB Odds: 4.2

2. TREKKING

The Godolphin gelding, running for Max Whitby, finished third in the race last year and there’s a strong argument that can be made for him being able to repeat that performance. Trekking was able to nose out Gytrash in the G1 Goodwood during the winter. He made his return in the Moir Stakes over 1000m, chasing home Pippie in second place. Josh Parr has been aboard him on a few occasions, including in last year’s Everest. The dry track is certainly a tick for him.

TAB Odds: 11

Classique Legend with jockey Kerrin McEvoy.Source:News Corp Australia

3. CLASSIQUE LEGEND

A move to Hong Kong fell through earlier this year, but it could result in an Everest triumph. He had to return for a single run during the winter due to the long break after missing the autumn, lumping a big weight to win at Listed level on a wet track. While the sting out of the ground suits Classique Legend, he’s certainly capable on a good surface as he’s displayed in his two runs this campaign. He got home in 11.23 for the final 200m in The Shorts (fastest sectional by 0.36) when swooping to a 1L win over Eduardo. He had to settle for second in the Premiere Stakes behind Libertini, but lost no admirers after a three-wide run in a performance that showed he was right on track for this.

TAB Odds: 4.8

4. SANTA ANA LANE

The five-time Group One-winner is back for his third crack at The Everest, having finished runner-up last year. Is the eight-year-old going as well as he was 12 months ago? That’s the concern. Santa Ana Lane had an indifferent autumn, failing to win in four starts. He finished second to Nature Strip in the TJ, but was back in sixth in his other three starts. That trend continued first-up in the Gilgai, running sixth to Zoutori. He does often need that first-up run, so improvement here is certainly possible, but not convinced he can recapture his very best.

TAB Odds: 21

5. BEHEMOTH

The big boy knocked down the door for an Everest spot with his feats in Melbourne this campaign, taking out both the G1 Memsie and Sir Rupert Clarke. The form out of the Memsie has stacked up pretty well, with runner-up Mr Quickie winning last week’s Toorak while third-placed Glenfiddich won the Stutt Stakes at his subsequent start. Behemoth ran fourth behind fellow Everest contenders Trekking and Gytrash (and ran past Sana Ana Lane) in the Goodwood earlier in the year where he had to make his run from the tail of the field after a slow getaway. He’ll be strong late after a couple of runs over 1400m and enters the race in hot form.

TAB Odds: 9

6. BIVOUAC

Godolphin earmarked Bivouac as their likely Everest contender early in the year on the back of his stunning Newmarket win where he easily handled a few of the runners he meets here. He did however fail to win in three subsequent starts in the autumn. He resumed with a good effort in The Shorts where he was caught very wide after jumping from the outside barrier, but stuck on well for third. He’s been back to the trials since and should have improvement fitness-wise second-up. Drawn a touch awkwardly, but with some luck he could be able to slot in behind the leaders.

TAB Odds: 15

Jason Collett on Gytrash.Source:Getty Images

7. GYTRASH

The SA sprinter was locked in early for The Everest allowing Gordon Richards to tailor the spring campaign towards Saturday. He’s emerged as a genuine A-grader in the past 12 months, winning the Lightning while going down by a nose to Trekking in the Goodwood. Gytrash has been able to continue his consistency at the top level, which has seen him miss a place just once in his 20 career starts. He should be able to find a good spot from barrier 7 just behind the leaders. It’s hard to find any knocks on him.

TAB Odds: 6

8. EDUARDO

The 7YO lost his way in a couple of runs in Melbourne earlier in the year which saw a stable switch, with Eduardo landing with Joe Pride in Sydney. Eduardo hasn’t put a foot wrong in his time in Sydney, stepping up to each challenge. He defeated Roheryn first-up before taking out the G2 Missile Stakes by 1.5L, where he knocked off Flit (who took out the Silver Eagle last week). He’s been up a long time, but has only been lightly raced over the spring and his trial last week showed he’s still ticking over nicely. A bit of rain would’ve enhanced his chances, but he’s not without a hope for a top four finish.

TAB Odds: 21

9. DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR

He got the late call-up to replace Farnan in the Aquis slot. It’s hard to envisage Dollar For Dollar winning, as his odds suggest, but his recent form suggests he can at least put in a competitive performance. He was 1L off Behemoth in the Sir Rupert Clarke, albeit 3.5kg better off at the weights on that occasion, before finishing a nose off Zoutori in the Gilgai, with the likes of Tofane and Santa Ana Lane finishing behind him.

TAB Odds: 51

10. TOFANE

A Group One winner in the autumn when nosing out Pierata in the All Aged over 1400m. She’s had two runs this campaign, finishing a close-up third to Zoutori in the Bobbie Lewis before being a touch unlucky in the run to the line in the Gilgai when in behind a wall of horses. Tofane probably hasn’t ticked off her credentials at this level over 1200m, with just a G3 win to her name, but she put in a solid run for fifth in the TJ during the autumn. The draw will likely see her get a long way back in the run.

TAB Odds: 21

11. LIBERITINI

She had a big boom on her during her 3YO season, taking out the Furious Stakes as the $1.18 favourite. Liberitini didn’t quite go on with it that spring, although she was third behind Exceedance and Bivouac in the Coolmore. She failed to fire in two runs during the autumn with the campaign aborted after the Newmarket. Emerged in the spring in the Premiere after two impressive trials and she returned with a bang, defeating Classique Legend by 2L to become hot property for an Everest berth. Unfortunately she hasn’t been done any favours with the draw here. She was able to tuck in behind the leaders in the Premiere, but she’s going to need some luck early from the outside gate.

TAB Odds: 10

Chris Waller checks on Haut Brion Her.Source:Getty Images

12. HAUT BRION HER

A late pick for the race, but she’s certainly capable of a midfield finish. Her win first-up in the G2 Sheraco was sensational, reeling off some hot early sectionals when crossing from a wide draw, but still had enough in the tank late to hold off the field by 0.8L. The overall time for the Sheraco was significantly slower than Rothfire’s win on the day in the Run to the Rose however. Genuine excuses for her last start when again made to do a mountain of work from a wide gate. Haut Brion Her has to make the jump from G2 mares grade to facing the best sprinters, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her be competitive up on the speed.

TAB Odds: 34

VERDICT

Going with Classique Legend. He’s in great form, drawn well and hopefully can finish over the top of them. Throwing in Bivouac for second for a bit of value. The draw is potentially tricky for him, but with some luck early he can make his presence felt. Gytrash doesn’t know how to run a bad race and has proven himself at this level in 2020. I can’t completely leave Nature Strip out and it certainly wouldn’t be a shock to see him win, but I can’t be confident with him at the odds.

1. Classique Legend

2. Bivouac

3. Gytrash

4. Nature Strip

This article originally appeared in punters.com.au and was reproduced with permission

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