By Ray Hickson
He’s still sporting a bit of a belly but ‘carrot fiend’ Classique Legend, also known as 'Jiminy' around the Les Bridge stable, served notice the challenge of climbing Everest is not beyond him with a slashing first trial at Randwick on Tuesday.
Sure it was only trial, and he finished a bit over two lengths shy of Sunlight, but for Carmel Size, racing manager for owner Bon Ho and co-slot holder, it was more than enough to calm the nerves about the mountain the grey is being asked to climb.
“The horse hasn’t worked with another horse this prep yet so it was pleasing to see how enthusiastic he was about his business,’’ Size said.
“You just want to see them come back. We’ve jumped the first hurdle, that’s the main thing, and I think he is in line for a nice prep.’’
Classique Legend, the least experienced of the eight horses already confirmed for the $14m TAB Everest (1200m), settled third in the 1000m trial and lengthened stride comfortably under Kerrin McEvoy in the home straight.
It was his first appearance since he raced away with the Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint in April and Size said the path to the Everest will become clearer later in the week.
It’s likely Jiminy will resume in the Group 2 $500,000 The Shorts (1100m) at Randwick on September 21 with either a second trial or an exhibition gallop used to further tighten up his tummy.
“He does get a pick for an hour a day and he eats his fair share of carrots. He is a carrot fiend, you have no idea,’’ Size said.
“We’ll see what unfolds with the weather and see how he eats up. His next little bit of work will tell us where he’s at.’’
McEvoy, who faces a choice between Classique Legend and dual champion Redzel for his Everest ride in the near future, said it was a pleasing return and if he keeps improving the Everest is certainly no pipe dream for connections.
“It was good to get him back trialling and it was a nice hit out with Sunlight cruising along in front,’’ he said.
“It was pleasing to see his approach to it all and that last furlong was done without too much asking. If you’re making ground on Sunlight you know you’re doing all right.’’
“He has to improve again this preparation but you’d like to think there’s every chance he’s heading in the right direction.’’
McEvoy said the grey would produce his very best on a good track but he travelled smoothly in the soft ground in the trial.
Sunlight’s jockey Luke Currie said the softish conditions weren’t ideal for the triple Group 1 winning mare but the tougher than expected gallop will bring her on.
It’s well documented that Sunlight thrives on racing and Currie believes he’s exactly where trainer Tony McEvoy would want her with just over seven weeks until the TAB Everest.
“She had a good blow at the end of it. The track was probably a soft 6 so it was a bit more testing ground,’’ Currie said.
“She cruised through the first 700m then I gave her a bit of a test the last couple of hundred metres to give her a nice hit out. She would have run a really solid half mile then the last 100m she’d had enough.’’
Sunlight downs Classique Legend in a Randwick trial on August 27
The Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) on September 7 will be Sunlight’s first start of a campaign planned to take her through to the inaugural $7.5m The Golden Eagle.
She’ll meet Redzel, who has won the past two Concordes, along with Nature Strip, Graff and unbeaten Queenslander Zoustyle. Godolphin announced that Osborne Bulls would be saved until The Shorts.
“She has never won first-up so she always improves from her first-up run,’’ Currie said.
“She will run well but she doesn’t have to be winning to be on target.’’
Both Sunlight and Classique Legend are on the $9 line in TAB betting on The Everest.