By Ray Hickson
Three top class sprinters. Two TAB Everest slots. One Premiere Stakes.
The equation for Fasika, Libertini and Standout in Saturday’s Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) is a simple one – win and you’ve likely done enough to fill one of the remaining spots in the TAB Everest.
Put in a slashing performance to be in the finish and you make a compelling case to James Harron and Chris Waller Racing who are yet to select a runner.
Trainer Joe Pride has already secured a place for Eduardo in the $15m TAB Everest and is under no illusions about what Fasika must do if she’s to join him at Royal Randwick on October 17.
“The most important thing for her on Saturday is a big performance,’’ Pride said.
“We don’t want to run in the back half of a field in the Everest. She’s going to have to really stand up on Saturday and if she doesn’t we’ll just go a different path with her.”
Fasika disappointed Pride, and punters, when she finished eighth as a short priced favourite in the Group 2 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill three weeks ago.
The conclusion from Pride is the five-year-old isn’t comfortable at Rosehill when the track is firm and is dismissing the run, preferring to point to her Randwick record which includes a Group 1 third in the All Aged Stakes in the autumn.
He expects Nature Strip to lead and is forecasting Fasika to be not far away in the run.
“I can see we are the only other bit of speed in the race, we’ll be positive from the gate and I’d say we’ll be second in the run,’’ he said.
Just over a year ago Libertini’s TAB Everest stocks were soaring after she broke 1:08 to win the Silver Shadow Stakes over the Everest course but ultimately she was kept to her own age that spring.
Trainer Anthony Cummings has been patient with the now four-year-old, after a below par two start autumn, and said there’ll be little left on the table as she makes the last minute surge into contention.
“There are some nice horses in the Everest but, on her right form, she is certainly in the mix. She has that x-factor that says she can beat the best of them,’’ Cummings said.
“She’ll run very well if her trials are any indication. We know she can sit reasonably close to a hot speed and be effective.”
Libertini has trialled twice, the second of them was a win in the Kensington heat that Nature Strip and James McDonald parted ways, and Cummings said while Tommy Berry rode in those trials race day jockey Regan Bayliss has been her regular trackwork partner of late.
Libertini wins a trial at Randwick on September 21
Above all else he just wants Libertini to have every chance in the run and show what she’s made of.
“I think she will be in the second or third set of pairs and from there that gives her the right opportunity to show herself and force some claims to be there in a couple of weeks’ time,’’ he said.
Standout already boasts a weight-for-age win over the Randwick 1200m so co-trainer Sterling Alexiou says he’s proven himself capable of earning an Everest berth if he puts his best form on show.
The flashy four-year-old was beaten two lengths by Classique Legend at his first run back in The Shorts (1100m) two weeks ago where he conceded a start, loomed up then weakened late to run fifth.
Alexiou said Standout has made the necessary improvement from that first-up run for this make or break Everest audition.
“He’s come through the run quite well, he was first-up for a little while, he had a bit of improvement going into that run,’’ he said.
“It’s a pretty hot field on Saturday but if a couple of things had gone different the other day he might have finished a length closer.
“I honestly thought he might have got a slot coming out of that last run. Listening to a couple of people they were a bit disappointed how he cruised up to them in the straight and Classique Legend came off his back.”
The task for Standout, aside from trying to knock over the Everest first and second favourites, is for Nash Rawiller to get the best run possible from the outside in the eight horse field.
“He’s going to have to ride him how the race unfolds,’’ Alexiou said.
“We saw Tommy (Berry) sit three deep in the Expressway that day, as long as he gets into a good rhythm he has a very good turn of foot and a good finish.”
The TAB Premiere market has Fasika at $9, Libertini at $12 and Standout at $14 while in the TAB Everest they are $51, $34 and $34 respectively.