By Ray Hickson
As The Everest looms large in the thinking of trainers and slot holders alike, Greg Hickman is hoping his exciting colt Pierata can make an early statement and emerge as a contender for the world’s richest race on turf.
The rising four-year-old has been back in work for three weeks and Hickman plans to give him two shots in August at impressing slot holders before locking in a spring target.
Pierata, who has a 2-0 scoreline over Everest equal favourite Trapeze Artist, is set to tackle the Group 2 $200,000 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick first-up on August 4.
Then he’ll run in the Group 1 Winx (formerly Warwick) Stakes (1400m) two weeks later where he could face a clash with Winx herself if she resumes in the race she’s won the past two editions of.
Pierata splits Kementari and Trapeze Artist in the Randwick Guineas in March
“Second’s not bad is it? You never know what will happen but that’s our plan,’’ Hickman said.
“If he runs well in his first two runs they’ll be chasing us (for a slot) and if he doesn’t we’ll go the another way.’’
Plan B for Pierata is the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) but the trainer is adamant if he returned in his A grade form and he was to set Pierata for the $13 million The Everest over 1200m he’d be very competitive.
Pierata was an easy winner of the Magic Millions Guineas (1400m) in January then proved himself among the best of his age with seconds behind Kementari, beating home Trapeze Artist, in both the Hobartville Stakes and last start in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 10.
As far as The Everest is concerned, despite fielding some interest already, Hickman knows Pierata is not an obvious choice – those are already taken.
Inaugural winner Redzel was secured by Yulong Investments, TAB snapped up In Her Time while Aquis will race Trapeze Artist in the feature sprint on October 13.
“At the moment I think everyone who wanted a horse got one,’’ he said.
“We’ll wait and see who drops off the list, who goes forwards or backwards. It’s a bit of a cat and mouse game going on.’’
Hickman said Pierata appears to have grown a bit in his eight week break and his only battle in the early stages of his preparation is to keep the colt’s head out of the feed bin.
“He’s been over eating for the last three weeks and he’s just started going pacework,’’ he said.
“He’ll have the same preparation as when we went to the Gold Coast. Two trials and he’ll be ready to go first-up.
“Last time in when Corey (Brown) kept saying he liked the horse and he kept rapping the horse up it makes it exciting.
“I don’t know how good he is and which way to go. I can do anything I want with him if I want to but it’s all about making him into a stallion.’’
Brown has ridden the talented son of popular stallion Pierro in all but one of his 10 starts to date and he’s also been the regular rider of In Her Time so if the colt does secure a slot he may have a tricky choice to make.
Pierata is a $51 chance with TAB in The Everest market behind Trapeze Artist and Redzel ($5) while In Her Time and Kementari are at $11.