By Ray Hickson
Gai Waterhouse has promised a song and dance if English can win the Everest after a drama charged Premiere Stakes at Randwick that might have thrown the world’s richest race on turf wide open.
Everyone expected the Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) to offer a taste of what The Everest will serve up on October 14 and it didn’t disappoint.
- Surely the Premiere winner In Her Time and third placed Clearly Innocent will have done enough to attract remaining slot holders Coolmore and Damion Flower to come knocking.
- English proved she’s right on track while the jury’s out on Fell Swoop.
- Chautauqua has been deposed as favourite for the $10 million The Everest (1200m) by She Will Reign after he finished sixth.
Waterhouse said English laid to rest the theory that she’s only an autumn performer as she charged home from second last, closing the fastest last 600m, to run In Her Time to a neck.
“I’m over the moon, when you give all those lengths away it is so hard to win,’’ Waterhouse said.
“If she wins the Everest there’ll absolutely be a special performance, I’ll sing and dance.’’
Chautauqua’s jockey Brenton Avdulla said he’s confident ‘The Grey Flash’ is still the horse to beat come Everest Day.
The three time TJ Smith Stakes winner was under the whip before the turn but still reeled off the second fastest last 600m of the race.
“Still on target, grand final is in two weeks,’’ Avdulla said.
“I reckon he would’ve run the same sectionals today as he did the other day.”
Kris Lees, trainer of third placed Clearly Innocent, was also rapt with his horse’s first-up performance saying there’s plenty of improvement to come if he’s chosen for a slot.
The inaugural Country Championship winner has won two from four second-up and arguably should have finished closer in the Premiere.
“It was a really good return run, he can take a run as a rule,’’ Lees said.
“I know they ran really good time it didn’t look high pressure in the early stages but I think you’ll see an improved horse in two weeks if he gets there.
“Hugh (Bowman) couldn’t have been more complimentary when he came back, the horse is in great order and whatever race he is in he’ll be hard to beat.’’
Fell Swoop was again trapped wide when finishing eighth and trainer Matt Dale isn’t giving up on the horse peaking in two weeks.
He said the gelding desperately needs a bit more give in the ground.
“He just got bumped out of it and posted three wide into the breeze,’’ Dale said.
“On a rock hard track they just outsprint him. He kept boxing back on the line, he still had improvement in his coat and he’ll come on a lot from that. We’ve just got to hope for some rain.’’
As for the winner, trainer Ben Smith is playing the wait and see approach regarding a slot in the Everest with In Her Time.
The mare made a good case for picking up one of the remaining slots despite concerns over her wearing bar plates on front.
“We will let the dust settle today. We will just see what happens,’’ Smith said.
“Nothing might happen and we might go to Melbourne or stay here. There is a big carrot to dangle $10m. I’ll turn the phone on (for a slot).”
Confirmed runners in the Everest with two weeks remaining are Chautauqua (GPI Racing), English (TAB), Fell Swoop (Inglis), She Will Reign (Yu Long), Houtzen (Aquis), Brave Smash (ATC), Vega Magic (Max Whitby), Redkirk Warrior (The Star), Redzel (James Harron) and Deploy (Chris Waller).