By Ray Hickson
It really was a no-brainer for one of the 12 Everest slot holders to lock in classy Newcastle mare In Her Time for 2018.
While some would call her omission from the inaugural running somewhat controversial, the fact remains for whatever reason she wasn’t chosen.
But things have changed in the last six months – something her trainer Ben Smith is well aware of - and In Her Time has risen to be one of the nation’s leading sprinters.
Just three days after Trapeze Artist became the first horse confirmed for the $13 million The Everest, run over the Randwick 1200m on October 13, TAB moved to ensure In Her Time will now have her chance.
“She came up a bit under the radar last year and it was all a bit quick,’’ Smith said.
“This year she’s a lot more exposed and has won her Group 1 now and it looks like she is getting better.’’
In Her Time of course was at Randwick on Everest day last year and she was successful in the Sydney Stakes (1200m), the Everest Consolation, where she ran slightly faster time than the main event in downing Impending by a long head.
For much of the second half of 2017, In Her Time had the tag of the best sprinter not to have won at Group 1 level but Smith is adamant she’s getting better all the time and her Galaxy win is evidence.
“She has only been beaten once over 1200 metres at Randwick, which was an unlucky third in the TJ Smith, and given she is one of the top sprinters in the country we are very confident,’’ Smith said.
“She is a better horse this season than she was last and we really thank TAB for this wonderful opportunity.’’
She’ll have her third clash with reigning Everest hero Redzel in next month’s Doomben 10,000 – the pair met in last year’s 10,000 (Redzel won, IHT fifth) and of course in the TJ Smith.
In Her Time’s selection is the second piece in the 12 horse puzzle to be uncovered and you’d think it won’t be long before another one or two of the nation’s best sprinters are secured.
Of course we have to keep in mind there’s the mystery surrounding Chautauqua (127 Timeform rating last season) but given one of his owners holds a slot the popular grey’s place in the field is assured if he can earn back his barrier ticket.
Based on the this season's Timeform ratings for Australia’s sprinters, In Her Time is ranked just outside the top 10 but with Smith’s comments in mind that the best is still ahead expect her to climb the ladder.
Australia’s current highest rated sprinter under the Timeform scale is Lightning and Newmarket winner Redkirk Warrior, who ran tenth in the Everest, on 127.
Next in line are Everest winner Redzel, TJ Smith/All Aged winner Trapeze Artist and Everest runner-up Vega Magic all on 126.
Then it gets interesting as far as which horses might attract slot holder attention.
Crack three-year-old Kementari had a Timeform rating of 123 for winning the Hobartville at 1400m and a 125 for his Randwick Guineas win over the mile.
Doncaster hero Happy Clapper’s overall rating is 129 but given he hasn’t raced at 1200m since October 2015 we can get a guide through his Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) where he rated 124, the same as Everest third placegetter Brave Smash’s rating.
Behind them on the list are Hey Doc, the soon to be retired Impending and Menari all on 122, then In Her Time at 121 for her Galaxy win. For those interested, South Australian mare Viddora has a 116 Timeform mark.
In Her Time wins The Galaxy at Rosehill Gardens on March 24
It’s a fascinating selection game for The Everest and the question of when to strike is a vital one. In its first year the fillies She Will Reign and Houtzen were the first secured while Redzel wasn’t snapped up until a month before the race.
For TAB, who raced English with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in their slot in 2017, it was In Her Time’s place as one of the emerging sprint stars that made the wagering giant’s choice easy.
“We had an Everest project team who weighed-up all options and considered a number of possible horses but, in the end, In Her Time was the ideal fit on every level,” Adam Rytenskild, Tabcorp’s Managing Director of Wagering and Media, said.
“She is one of the best sprinters in the land and still on the way up. We have also been very impressed in all our dealings with her emerging trainer Ben Smith and owner Peter Brown.
“They are as excited as we are about sharing the amazing Everest experience with some of our customers.”
On the back of TAB’s announcement In Her Time firmed from $8 into $7 behind the new joint favourites Redzel and Trapeze Artist at $5.
There are 38 horses currently listed in TAB’s All-in Everest market. Whose turn is it next?