By Ray Hickson
The TAB Everest champion is coming home and trainer Les Bridge can’t wait to welcome Classique Legend back into his stable to prepare for his third attempt at Australia’s richest race.
It’s not quite under the circumstances Bridge would have hoped, the grey suffered a minor bleed after trackwork in Hong Kong earlier this week, but there’s no doubt in the trainer’s mind that if he can get him back to his best he can win a second TAB Everest in October.
Classique Legend was sent to Hong Kong by his owner Bon Ho after his Everest win but has clearly struggled in the environment and was well beaten in the Hong Kong International Sprint in December at his only start there.
Bridge said on SEN Track on Thursday morning he was “tickled pink” when he got the news the five-year-old is returning to him.
“It’s unfortunate, when horses go to places like Hong Kong and Singapore some adjust to the different climate and overall environmental differences,’’ he said.
“Some horses don’t adjust, and Classique Legend is one of those horses that just didn’t settle down over there. He got cuddled here a bit too, all he wants to do is come home I’d say.”
His Hong Kong trainer Caspar Fownes noted Classique Legend had a few coughs after his work on Wednesday morning and a trickle of blood was noticed in his left nostril.
He recommended to Bon Ho that the horse should go back to Australia.
Classique Legend won’t arrive in Sydney until June as he, and another returning star Shadow Hero, won leave Hong Kong until May and will have to do quarantine in New Zealand for a couple of weeks.
The gelding ran sixth in the 2019 Everest and was scheduled to go to Hong Kong in early 2020 but that didn’t happen for various reasons, including the pandemic causing flight delays, and Bridge was on the back foot for his spring campaign.
He’ll likely have to improvise again this time around but Bridge said he wasn’t too concerned about that given the dominance of his Everest win at Randwick back on October 17.
“He’ll have had a bit of a break and a spell,’’ he said.
“I’m in the same position I was last time with him to a certain extent, the timing is not great but we will overcome that. I’m an ad libber. I’ll work it out.
“If I learnt one thing in my time training horses you can do a lot with a great horse. He’s probably the best horse I’ve ever had and we’ve just got to get him healthy.
“If we get him healthy he will win the next Everest. In all the time I had him I’ve never had a problem with him.”
Classique Legend is the $6 favourite in TAB’s all-in market on this year’s Everest.