By Ray Hickson
At Rosehill Gardens
A new contender emerged in Home Of The Brave, Nature Strip faltered slightly and for some reason Trapeze Artist lost favouritism for The Everest.
The battle for the final two slots in next month’s TAB Everest took a turn in a dramatic 20 minutes of racing on Saturday and Godolphin’s import Home Of The Brave made a big case that he should be part of the $13 million winning the Group 2 $200,000 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m).
It’ll sure give trainer James Cummings plenty to think about with the Australian Turf Club and Max Whitby still chasing their Everest runners.
Jockey Glyn Schofield wasn’t buying into the whether he should or shouldn’t run in an Everest but his dashing Theo Marks win impressed him no end.
“It’s hard for horses to run into the bridle and find again, especially in the top grade. Not many horses can do what he did. It was a good win,’’ Schofield said.
“(The Everest) is for James and the team to decide but this win does him no harm.
“I’d love to ride him on top of the ground, see how quick he can actually go.
“Wet or dry, that’s the way he likes to run. He’s a high roller with a big cruising speed and a big stride. He has a bit of depth as well.’’
— Australian Turf Club (@atc_races) September 8, 2018
Just days ago Cummings ruled the Everest out for Kementari but did express interest with Home Of The Brave should he produce something like what unfolded at Rosehill.
Home Of The Brave firmed to $13 with TAB in The Everest market and the win will likely prompt a rethink on what assistant trainer Darren Beadman’s pre-race conversation with Cummings suggested.
“I spoke to James prior to the race and he said if he does happen to perform well today and be convincing, he was probably thinking something like the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes,’’ Beadman said.
“Very pleasing to see him do it both ends like he did, if Glyn could get it right for the first furlong and a half out of the gates he was always going to be figuring in the finish.
“He got him into a nice rhythm and was able to dictate and get D’Argento and Trapeze Artist out of their comfort zones coming to the corner, he was strong to the line.”
Runner-up D’Argento did his Epsom Handicap chances no harm with his performance in defeat and he also firmed in the feature race market as the $5 favourite ahead of weights being released early next week.
Trapeze Artist’s trainer Gerald Ryan was rapt with his charge’s performance as he not a noted heavy track performer and had to concede 3.5kg or more to the entire field.
The three-time Group 1 winner loomed up 300m out before his condition gave out in the sticky ground and he held third, though he eased to $6 with TAB and was displaced as favourite by Redzel ($5).
Home Of The Brave leads all the way in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes at Rosehill
He’ll progress to the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) in three weeks as his final Everest lead-up.
“He meets all those horses at level weights next time. I reckon he went well,’’ Ryan said.
“It’s called improvement. It’s five weeks until the grand final.
“I was borderline running him but if I had waited until next week it’ll 1100m at Randwick and I would have been behind the eight ball.
“He’s been set for these three races since the end of May and I didn’t want to differ.’’
Trapeze Artist ran the equal fastest last 600m of the Theo Marks, Punters Intel revealing he and fourth-placed Shillelagh clocked 35.36.
He clocked the fastest 600-400 (11.72) and 400-200 (11.54) before knocking up under the 61kg late.
Jockey Tye Angland was also glowing in Trapeze Artist’s run saying he was happy with the way the four-year-old relaxed in the run but he simply didn’t pick up in the conditions.
“He came into it feeling great but when I asked him to quicken the wheels spun a little bit. This heavy track is not his go,” he said.