The Starting Gate By Ray Hickson
Waller to the four in G1s
Aside from the obvious, Chris Waller couldn’t have compiled a stronger team to chase his fourth Epsom Handicap win at Randwick on Saturday.
Waller won the feature mile three years on end with Boban (2013), He’s Your Man (2014) and Winx (2015).
Group 1 winning mares Egg Tart and Foxplay head a likely Waller quartet in the $1 million feature mile with the Bill Ritchie quinella of Comin’ Through and Tom Melbourne providing back up.
“It’s a pretty good team,’’ Waller said.
Waller is considering also running McCreery and Mackintosh but said they’re more likely to tackle the Group 2 Hill Stakes (1800m).
Egg Tart was usurped as favourite for the Epsom when Happy Clapper ran second to Winx in the George Main but Waller is rapt with the dual Oaks winning mare’s progress in the last couple of weeks.
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) September 23, 2017
“It’s pretty hard to break a track record first-up so to run second in a track record is about as good as you can get,’’ he said of her first-up run behind Deploy in the Theo Marks.
“She’s about 5kg heavier than last prep and she’s ready to go.’’
The champion trainer is also likely to have a quartet in the Group 1 Metropolitan (2400m), a race he’s won twice, via Antonio Giuseppe (Joao Moreira), Libran (Glyn Schofield), Life Less Ordinary (Kerrin McEvoy) and Who Shot Thebarman (Hugh Bowman).
Epsom and Metropolitan fields are finalised on Tuesday morning followed by the barrier draw held at Randwick.
Ready to Swoop
Fresh from a Group 1 Golden Rose triumph, jockey Tye Angland is expecting to see noticeable improvement from his Everest mount Fell Swoop at his second run back this weekend.
It’s expected Fell Swoop will run in either the Group 1 Moir Stakes on Friday night or the Group 2 Premiere Stakes on Saturday for his final Everest lead up.
The gelding ran sixth in The Shorts behind Everest second favourite Redzel and Angland gave the run a pass mark.
“It was a nice run and Matt’s trained him, as everyone would, to peak three runs in,’’ Angland said.
“Obviously we want to see him improve a little bit more second up. His best runs have been at 1200m at Randwick. He’s not the easiest horse to ride but he performs on the right day.
“I’m very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to ride in the first Everest.’’
The Moir meeting in Melbourne holds plenty of Everest interest with Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign returning and Houtzen looking to bounce back from a first-up defeat against the fillies in the Scarborough Stakes (1200m).
The Premiere is expected to include Chautauqua and English while Kris Lees confirmed Group 1 winner Clearly Innocent is ready to return and perhaps press for a late Everest call up.
“We’ll see where he’s at, he’s going really well and he will run very well,’’ Lees said.
With Deploy joining the Everest field and pending confirmation of Redkirk Warrior and Vega Magic’s inclusion, only two slots remain vacant.
No Winx, no worries
The decision to point Winx towards the Turnbull Stakes and not Craven Plate could actually be a bonus for the first running of The Everest.
I know that sounds silly given Winx is the biggest attraction in racing but The Everest, the world’s richest turf race and the most talked about race this year, should not be overshadowed.
If Winx was chasing win 21 on the same day, as much as you tried, the day would be all about her.
Sydney will still see Winx race a few times in the autumn before a possible international campaign and in her absence The Everest has the chance to establish itself as an event worthy of a $10 million purse.
Remember Nettoyer, the filly who won a 2000m race at Randwick in June by 10 lengths?
Well, trainer Wendy Roche has revealed the now four-year-old is about two weeks away from returning to work.
“She pulled up a bit sore behind in one of her track gallops so I thought I’d give her time to mature in the paddock,’’ Roche said.
Nettoyer has packed on some 80kg in her break so Roche will be taking her time in bringing her back to race fitness with a first-up run tentatively planned around the end of the year.
“She’ll have a normal slow foundation and we’ll see how she goes and where she’s at,’’ she said.
Horse to follow
Paret (Rosehill): if this three-year-old isn’t already in the black book make sure he goes in because he’s a talent of the future. He ran third to Beau Geste in the opener but it would’ve been interesting to see the result had the colt not been all over the place in the last 200m.