By Ray Hickson
It's fair to say Peter Snowden is a convert to The Everest concept and not just because he trains one of the nation's in-form sprinters.
The premiership winning trainer admitted the was a little sceptical when the concept was announced back in February but as time has unfolded he’s more than warmed to the idea.
Snowden and his son Paul prepare classy five-year-old Redzel who will take a four race winning streak into the $10m TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
“I thought no one would give it the time of day,’’ Snowden said.
“When it was announced and a few slots came on straight away I thought ‘this might be bigger than we think’.
“But it's kept building momentum and it's been very well publicised and promoted and it has worked terrifically.
“The field tells you how well it has worked.
“The beauty of it is there's no Black Caviar in there. Chautauqua is the benchmark and has raced at the highest level but he's not unbeatable. Every horse there has a chance.’’
Redzel has always been a handy sprinter but he’s gone to a new level in 2017 – from six starts he’s won four races, including a Group 1, and been narrowly beaten by English and Russian Revolution in the other two.
Snowden said since Redzel was selected by James Harron, who snapped up the gelding once his own colt Pariah was ruled out of contention, he’s been able to give the horse a perfect build up.
He hasn’t raced since his easy win in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) on September 16.
“The best preparation with this horse is he loves a month between runs, if you can do that he's almost unbeatable,’’ Snowden said.
“First-up off an extended break between a couple of runs is his best form. If we were going to go to this race in our best form we had to go to The Shorts then four weeks to The Everest.
“He's probably a more seasoned horse now, and he's getting a good 1200m which is going to be the utmost importance.’’
An interstate commitment saw champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy miss the ride in The Shorts but he’s back on board for The Everest where Redzel jumps from gate four.
Snowden said his recent trial win was "the perfect trial’’ ahead of what is likely to be his grand final this preparation.
“Without blinkers he's a bit casual, I didn't want to give him a gut buster but just a nice trial,’’ he said.
‘’The leader (Gambler’s Blues) gave him something to chase, exactly what we wanted.’’
As for the future of The Everest, Snowden has no doubt it will prove itself worthy of elevation to Group 1 status sooner rather than later.
“It's a given that it will be but they can't make it a Group 1 straight away,’’ he said.
“It's like the Golden Rose. We all knew it would be a Group 1 but took about three years and this race will probably be similar.
“And it will hold horses here more, it'll make our racing stronger and horses will target the race.’’