By Ray Hickson
It’s hard for Tony Gollan to be confident about whether his unbeaten sprinter Zoustyle is up to Everest standard but there’s one thing he is certain of heading to Randwick on Saturday.
“I’m confident we’ve had a great prep, nothing has gone wrong so far,’’ Gollan said.
“He travelled down well, we haven’t missed a beat with him. I’m confident in that respect.
“Will he measure up at this level? I really have no idea. But he has an X-Factor about him and we have to find out at some stage.’’
There’s no deeper pool to throw a sprinter into than in a race loaded with horses either already in the TAB Everest or vying for a slot.
That’s what Gollan has done with Zoustyle as he takes his place in the Group 3 $160,000 Forum Concorde Stakes (1000m) alongside Redzel, Sunlight, Pierata, Nature Strip and Graff.
Zoustyle hasn’t raced outside his own age group or Queensland in his six starts and has led on each occasion. Does that mean he’s the logical Concorde leader?
“The most important thing is where he is at the finish,’’ Gollan said.
“He’s not a horse that has to lead at all costs, there’s no horse in the race that has that mandate about them.
“There’s a bit of intrigue there as to what Redzel might do underneath us or what Sunlight might do outside us. Having not raced against these horses previously we are only assuming what horse will get into stride and rhythm quicker.
“He’s a fast horse, he has good speed about him and if he leads he’ll be doing it within himself and comfortable doing it.’’
There’s been good support for Zoustyle to burst into the TAB Everest picture, after opening $8 on Wednesday he quickly firmed to $5.50 for the Concorde.
Gollan said what gives him some encouragement that the gelding could be up to the challenge is he’s a young horse on the up at a time where there’s no dominant sprinter and the stars are getting older.
He pulled the pin on Zoustyle’s winter campaign after one run, even though it was a winning one, to focus on the spring.
“We’ve really earmarked this spring as the carnival for him to see where he sits outside his home state,’’ he said.
“These horses take their turns as to who is the best, there’s no best sprinter at the moment. No Black Caviar. We’ll see where he sits.
Zoustyle's trial win at Doomben on August 13
“It’s a big step up but he has good ability. I expect him to handle himself well. I’m not saying he can beat these horses or he can’t but I expect him to run really well.’’
Pierata’s trainer Greg Hickman doesn’t have any concerns about vying for he lead as he knows the five-year-old will be giving them a start over the short course.
But that could work in his favour if a speed battle ensues.
“I have a very fit, happy horse going into the race,’’ Hickman said on Sky Sports Radio.
“I haven’t had this horse as good as what he is. Whether he runs first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth I want to see him hitting the line strongly.’’