By Ray Hickson
Trainer Kris Lees has been involved in each Everest so far but for the first time he’s been able to prepare a runner on his own terms.
When In Her Time has her second crack at the $14m The TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday she’ll arrive at the race with the benefit of a full preparation under Lees.
Sure the mare is giving away race fitness by trying to beat the world’s best sprinters first-up from a spell but Lees has always said he’s playing to her strengths by going in fresh.
The champion Newcastle trainer saddled up Clearly Innocent in the inaugural TAB Everest then had three runners in 2018 through Graff, Le Romain and In Her Time.
While In Her Time was selected early last year she was well into her preparation with former trainer Ben Smith when Lees took her over.
“From my point of view the difference is she’s been in the race all preparation and we’ve known where we are going with her,’’ Lees said.
“Last year the preparation was set out and I only took over the training of her close to the Everest.
“And my other runners only got in within two weeks of the race so it was never a strong option to target.’’
Of those horses Clearly Innocent ran eighth (2017), Le Romain fourth, Graff fifth and In Her Time seventh (2018).
In Her Time was snapped up quite early by slot holder Inglis to run in the TAB Everest so Lees has had plenty of time to get her fit enough for a tough 1200m fresh.
And he says she needed considerable time given her autumn campaign was halted with a foot issue following the Newmarket in March.
“It’s the longest gap she’s ever had between one run to the next,’’ Lees said.
“She’s had a long preparation for it, she took a little while to switch back on being an older mare but that forced my hand early on.
“I wanted to have her in with the view to running a month out, which she nearly did, then have her fresh going into it.’’
Whether it’s a case of out of sight so out of mind or the punters feel she’s had her chance, In Her Time is the outsider of the 12 horse TAB Everest field at $26.
But she boasts a strong fresh record having won five from eight first-up including both her Group 1 victories and won on this day in 2017 when she took out the Sydney Stakes.
Most will say it’ll be an enormous training effort from Lees to win the TAB Everest first-up. He sees it as a challenge but says he’s trying it with the right type of horse.
In Her Time runs second to Redzel in a Gosford trial on October 8
“It’s a 1200m race but you’d want to be spot on, that said she is a mare who has excelled first-up,’’ he said.
“She’s had numerous trials and jump outs and some good gallops so she’s ready.
“It looks a genuine race with Nature Strip in there, every horse is going to get their chance. She can take up a forward position if there’s no tempo.’’
Brenton Avdulla, who rode Graff for Lees last year and Chautauqua in the inaugural Everest, partnered In Her Time into second place behind Redzel in her latest trial on October 8.
In Her Time completed what Lees described as a sharp piece of work on Saturday and has her final gallop on Tuesday.