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The TAB Everest - A Runner By Runner Guide

Tips by Brad Gray

Brad Gray profiles all 12 of the TAB Everest contenders ahead of the $14m sprint feature on Saturday at Royal Randwick.

1. SANTA ANA LANE
Trainer: Anthony Freedman
Jockey: Mark Zahra

If Santa Ana Lane reproduces his TJ Smith Stakes romp, it’ll take a freakish effort to beat him. No horse in Australia, or even the world, could have matched it with him that day. Sunlight, Pierata and Redzel were left to squabble for the minors. The seven-year-old ran home in 33.07s in the Gilgai first up in what was a perfect pipe opener. In his past two campaigns he has exploded second up, both at Randwick over 1200m. He broke the track record in the Premiere Stakes, before striking a heavy track in last year’s Everest, before his emphatic TJ win came second up over the autumn. He is going to need luck at the right time from barrier 2 but given the runs he has on the board, he is a deserving race favourite. Would’ve preferred a middle to wide draw, however.

2. PIERATA
Trainer: Gregory Hickman
Jockey: Tommy Berry

Hickman and Berry (Pic: S.Hart)

This five-year-old gets better every preparation and this season that’s been no exception. The son of Pierro rattled home in a lightning split of 31.61s for his last 600m in the Concorde Stakes behind Redzel first up, before turning the tables on Redzel in The Shorts second up. The margin was only half a length but given the gentle early tempo of the race, the son of Pierro was more dominant that than the margin suggests. There was still more to come from Pierata. That much was obvious. Like that he has been freshened up since, skipping the Premiere Stakes. He'll be bouncing out of his skin third up. The query through the lead up races he has contested is the bunched finishes, however, he is the pick of the contenders to come through the Concorde/Shorts/Premiere form line. From the inside draw, Tommy Berry will likely park him midfield on the fence.

3. REDZEL
Trainer: Peter and Paul Snowden
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy

The two-time defending champ with a staggering $15.6 million in the bank. Loathed to underestimate him given his record in the race. He won at $8.50 both years and will be the same odds chasing the three-peat. He was beaten in his final lead up last year before bouncing back come grand final day, albeit suited by the heavy track. It’s a trait the Snowden’s have mastered, getting their horses to peak when I matters most. There is a perception that Redzel got an easy time of it in winning two Everests but that is wrong. It was sustained speed. That’s his biggest weapon, having the ability to kick at the 400m having rolled along in front. In an ideal world, he finds himself outside of Nature Strip.

4. NATURE STRIP
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Tim Clark

How far will his natural brilliance take him into the straight? Suspect it will be a little further than most expect. I’m sure there will be a point in Saturday’s race where punters hold their breath wondering if Nature Strip has slipped far enough in front to hold on. He’ll get the staggers late and although the form out of the Moir last start has been franked by Sunlight and Trekking, he’ll have the likes of Santa Ana Lane and Arcadia Queen breathing down his neck late. That’s another level of quality. He won’t be able to run a 12.20s last 200m and win this race. Tim Clark is a superb judge of pace so he’s well suited to the five-year-old. Don’t expect there to be fireworks early but rather a gradual building speed given his wide draw. Will feel the pinch the last 100m.

5. TREKKING
Trainer: James Cummings
Jockey: Josh Parr

Since being gelded back in November 2017, Trekking has won eight of his 15 starts. The five-year-old took giants leaps last campaign knocking off his first Group race, the G3 Hall Mark, before three starts later he ripped clear to win the G1 Stradbroke. He resumed in the Moir Stakes behind Nature Strip and although ran eighth, he clocked the fastest last 600, 400 and 200m in the race. The merit in the run was vindicated in the Schillaci Stakes last week which saw him book his place in The TAB Everest. He’ll be allowed to settle where he is comfortable from barrier 5, which is likely to be just off midfield before being produced late. Would be surprised if he won, but a top six finish wouldn’t shock.

6. CLASSIQUE LEGEND
Trainer: Les Bridge
Jockey: Nash Rawiller

Classique Legend (Pic: S.Hart)

The Classique Legend bandwagon is decidedly less crowded after the Premiere Stakes. Have punters been too quick to jump off? He started $2.25 in that race and now finds himself friendless, well into double figure odds. Brutal and Home Of The Brave controlled the Premiere from the front but having moved into the race like he was going to fight out the finish, Classique Legend didn’t savage the line like he was perhaps entitled to with his last 200m section inferior to both Brutal and Home Of The Brave. His last 600m of 33.93s was the quickest of the day. Could he be looking for 1400m already? On that run it’s difficult to forecast enough improvement for him to win an Everest, however, he shouldn’t be completely cast aside. He was only half a length of Pierata first up and beat home Redzel.

7. TEN SOVEREIGNS
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore

This Irish galloper is arguably the best sprinter the UK has ever sent to Australia. On what he has done to date in seven starts he is a far superior horse to last year’s Coolmore runner US Navy Flag. The last time we saw Ten Sovereigns he ran a well beaten sixth behind Battaash in the G1 Nunthorpe Stakes. However, he stepped away slowly and found the 1000m too slick. He did start favourite there. Prior to that he was a brilliant winner of the G1 July Cup. Don’t be surprised to see Ryan Moore sit three-wide on the four-year-old, keeping the horse in a rhythm. It’s near impossible to get a line on how the form will line up but he gets a dry track so we should see him at his best. He is a fascinating runner but can’t be with him due to the unknowns.

8. ALIZEE
Trainer: James Cummings
Jockey: Hugh Bowman

Prior to the spring, I was convinced that Alizee, if kept fresh, could win an Everest. That confidence has been tempered on what the giant mare produced first up in the Missile Stakes. She won but the time wasn’t flash. That said, the clock is only one piece of the form puzzle. Second up the wide draw cost her victory in the G1 Memsie at Caulfield. That was eight weeks ago now. We’ve seen her trial brilliantly since, getting the better of subsequent Premiere Stakes winner Brutal. After Osborne Bulls pulled up lame upon resumption and Godolphin opted against pitting Bivouac against the older horses, Alizee got the nod. She is dynamite on the fresh side, winning her last four first up runs and that doesn’t include when she won the Expressway last campaign with a month between runs. Her explosive best is good enough be in the somewhere in the finish.

9. SUNLIGHT
Trainer: Tony and Calvin McEvoy
Jockey: Luke Currie

Sunlight (Pic S.Hart)

Tony McEvoy was completely unfazed by what this brute of a mare produced first and second up knowing the four-year-old as well as he does. She has made steady improvement each run back and held off Santa Ana Lane to win the Gilgai down the straight third up. She comes to her peak now but will her best be good enough? Unlikely, but there is no denying that she is all heart. In her three Group One wins to date the common thread is that she refused to be beaten. All three of those wins were over 1200m, with her record over the trip an imposing 10:7-0-2. The race I’m using as a guide to her chances is last year’s TJ Smith, which she tackled as a three-year-old and ran third finishing alongside Pierata. Sunlight goes up 2kg under the WFA scale and not convinced she has made the improvement Pierata has this preparation. Too gutsy to not run well but hard to see her winning.

10. IN HER TIME
Trainer: Kris Lees
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla

Out of sight, out of mind. In her past four first up runs she has won the 2017 Premiere Stakes, before going on to win the Sydney Stakes in faster time than The TAB Everest, won the G1 Galaxy, ran third in the 2018 Premiere beaten 0.3L by Santa Ana Lane in track record time and beat Osborne Bulls and Sunlight in winning the G1 Lightning down the Flemington straight. The kicker is that they were at the odds of $4.80, $4, $5.50 and $4.40. So what has she done since to warrant being $20+ here? The short answer is nothing. Kris Lees has had the seven-year-old ticking over for a long time with three trials since August. The latest of those was at Gosford where she cruised to the line behind Redzel. She looks to be the one that the market has underestimated most.

11. ARCADIA QUEEN
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: James McDonald

There is a touch of ‘freak’ about this four-year-old. There is a question mark over her being a genuine 1200m horse given her dominance in Western Australia out to 1800m in the G1 Kingston Town, but she’s so talented that she could win just about any race you set her for. Her first run for Chris Waller was outstanding, blowing her rivals away in the Theo Marks Stakes (1300m). Waller has kept her fresh since then, with a month between runs to ensure she is still explosive over the sprint trip. She has trialled at Rosehill and ticked over beautifully. It’s easy to forget that what she had done prior to the Theo Marks was all in her first preparation! Draws to settle midfield, giving her every possible chance. If Santa Ana Lane rolls into Randwick at the top of his game, there is only one horse in this field with the potential to rise to that level with him… this girl.

12. YES YES YES
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Glen Boss

Is he good enough to win The TAB Everest? Well, Tulip and Graff both ran fifth in the race as three-year-olds and he is superior horse to both of those at the same time in their respective careers. What I can forecast with confidence is that we’ll see a career-best run from Yes Yes Yes. It’s a lovely set up 1400m back to 1200m third up with the blinkers going on for the first time. He loomed to beat Bivoac in the G1 Golden Rose last start but the winner rallied on the line. Perhaps the 1400m saw Yes Yes Yes out or it was that Bivouac had a couple of extra runs under his belt. Either way, there’s no excuses for the son of Rubick here. In his time with Waller, he has been ridden according to where he has drawn so expect him to be in the second half. Top three player.

TIPS
11. ARCADIA QUEEN
1. SANTA ANA LANE
12. YES YES YES
10. IN HER TIME

Click here for all the form and replays for The TAB Everest runners.

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