By Ray Hickson
Trainer Gerald Ryan says he couldn’t have given star sprinter Trapeze Artist a smoother preparation for a race that has been his sole focus for six months.
Aquis Farm was the first slot holder to make a move in 2018 in locking the horse in for Saturday’s $13m TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick and Ryan has felt a bit of pressure to have Trapeze Artist in A1 order for the important race.
He was last season’s champion three-year-old with three Group 1 wins including a weight-for-age double in the autumn, downing Redzel in the TJ Smith then completing the All Aged Stakes double.
Trapeze Artist is still racing as a four-year-old solely to focus on winning The Everest after owner Bert Vieira turned down offers of up to $40 million for the stallion prospect.
“Back at the end of April Bert could have sold him for a lot of money but he had this desire, and so did I, to win the Everest,’’ Ryan said.
“We spent a long time talking about it one Sunday morning, we decided to have a crack.
“He spelled for six weeks after he won the TJ, it was going to be a long slow build up and I haven't had a problem since.’’
A first-up third behind Home Of The Brave under 61kg on a heavy track at Rosehill, in the Theo Marks, divided opinion on exactly how well Trapeze Artist had returned.
Under the circumstances Ryan was more than pleased then he progressed to the Premiere Stakes (1200m) two weeks ago, loomed up but finished fourth behind Santa Ana Lane in track record time.
Punters Intel reveals he covered more ground than any other runner in the Group 2 feature and ran 33.09 for his last 600m, a time that certainly suggests to Ryan he’s going well.
“He always hits a flat spot second-up. I thought he would run well and would improve off it,’’ Ryan said.
“At face value I was fraction disappointed but when I sat down and analysed it after sleeping on it I thought he ran very well and bounced off it really well.
“He's a horse of pattern. He leaves feed race night, he cleans up okay Sunday and licks the bin Sunday night.’’
Regardless of what price he starts, a Trapeze Artist win on Saturday would be a popular one given the ordeal the Vieira family is going through following the car accident last month that has left Bert’s wife Gai in a coma.
Everest Day has been one that Vieira has been looking forward to since he made the decision to keep Trapeze Artist racing but, as Ryan says, Bert’s first priority is his family.
“I know everyone is hoping the horse will run very well and we think he will,’’ Ryan said.
“They are just hoping if he’s fortunate enough to win on Saturday, the race is going to be played in the hospital room, it might just bounce her out. Knowing Gai she won’t give up.
Trapeze Artist downs Redzel in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in April
“It was hard early on the family, Bert is a very private person and very family orientated and no matter what happens his family comes first.’’
TAB’s Everest market has been fluctuating and Trapeze Artist was favourite at one point on Thursday before easing to $7.50.
Jockey Tye Angland said he’d like nothing more than to give the Vieira family something to cheer about by guiding their favourite racehorse home.
“It would be pretty touching, I’ve kept in close contact, pretty special to win because she loves racing as much as Bert does,’’ Angland said.
“You would say it’s been a faultless preparation. The main thing we are looking at is to get him to do what he’s done in the past and getting him to peak third up.’’
On the question of Trapeze Artist’s wet track prowess, both Angland and Ryan concede they’d prefer a good track but are adamant he can perform on reasonably soft ground.
Prior to the Theo Marks, when he was first-up with a big weight, he hadn’t struck a seriously wet track since he was a two-year-old.
“His form isn’t that bad on wet tracks. Is he better on top of the ground? Yes, most horses are but he’s not legless,’’ Angland said.
“I’m very confident with the horse I’m on and the gate we’ve drawn.’’