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Punter's Pal - 2020 TAB Everest

By Ray Hickson

The wheeling and dealing is done, we have 12 of the best sprinters in the country ready to decide the winner of the $15m TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Here's nothing but quotes from the trainer and jockey of each runner on their chances.

1. Nature Strip (TAB)

Chris Waller: “I think he is the best horse in the race but I also respect current form and his current form isn’t as good as others in the race. We haven’t panicked, we’ve kept everything simple, made sure that he’s safe, in a good head space and there’s no aches or pains. Based on that I’m going into Saturday’s race pretty confident he’ll run up to his best form.”

James McDonald: “He can really perform on his day and if he turns up in that form he will be hard to beat. One thing I have noticed is he looks a lot better in the coat, it’s improving all the time. He only has to bring one of those performances like he did in the Darley or TJ and he will be winning this sort of race. He is a brute on his day and I’m hoping he performs as well as everyone knows he can.”

2. Trekking (Max Whitby & Neil Werrett)

Trekking (Pic: Godolphin)

James Cummings: “He’s been the improving horse, he’s a trier, he’s well travelled. He’s toughened up each season, he’s gotten better and better. While he screamed home with the other placegetters to run third last year, this year he’s a bit more mature and with that little bit more zest in his legs he might be the horse that it takes to knock off his stablemate.”

Josh Parr: “It’s a different set up, he’ll be going in a lot fresher than what he did last year seeing he won the Schillaci seven days before. This time he’s second-up from a run three weeks prior where he was really good running second. I think with 12 months under his belt, after experiencing the race last year, he is well and truly capable of winning or running top three. He’s definitely up to it and his run first-up suggests he’s in good shape. The barrier suits us and I think the race sets up well for his racing style. You can expect him to be one of the stronger horses late in the piece.”

3. Classique Legend (Bon Ho)

Les Bridge: “You’ll see on Saturday how good he is. I think he will win. He’s had a great preparation and if he can just get a bit of luck, which you need in these big races, I just think he can win the race. You’ve got to win to justify anything, you don’t justify anything by losing. I thought his run in the Shorts was terrific, if he can reproduce that, or get the same run, he is going to be really hard to beat.”

Kerrin McEvoy: “The last start was what was needed to get him fitter, obviously things didn’t go to plan in regards to getting cover and we were beaten by Libertini on the day fair and square. We’re happy with how he has done since and I was pleased with his work during the week. He did his final bit of work (on Tuesday) and he showed his customary brilliance when I asked him to quicken up. I know my horse has the engine required to compete at this level, you need everything to go right and that barrier enables us to get a good run throughout. I’m confident he can do it.”

4. Santa Ana Lane (Coolmore)

Jockey Sam Clipperton (Pic: Bradley Photos)

Anthony & Sam* Freedman: “He’s the sort of horse that can run poorly, or average, first-up and jump out of the ground second-up. He is going to run a lot better second-up than what he did first-up regardless of how you see it. When he flies under the radar a little bit he sneaks up on his opposition. A lot of the commentary around him is he’s finished and what have you. But we are always going to do the best thing by the horse and we think there is plenty of life in him, if he wasn’t deserving or willing to be there then we wouldn’t be there. We think he is there to shake things up.”

Sam Clipperton: "He’s well travelled and he performed well in the race last year. I think he is the sort of horse that could really jump out of the ground on Saturday. He’s had the first-up run on the board which is good enough and I’m sure he will be well primed. He likes to find his feet early, it’s a high pressure race which is going to suit him, he’s a high pressure horse, and if he’s at his best he will be getting home very strong.”

5. Behemoth (The Star)

David Jolly: “Some of his best runs have been from low draws. He loves getting smothered up, even though he is a big horse you wouldn’t think it looking at him. When he was beaten in the Goodwood by Despatch (in 2019), and when he won the other day he was probably held up longer than you’d like but he seems to sprint better. The good thing is I haven’t had to train him too hard up here it’s just maintenance because he’s coming back from 1400m to 1200m. From my point of view the important thing is the horse is happy, he’s come here a fit horse.”

Nash Rawiller: “There looks a little bit of pressure in the race which is ideal for him. His form has been impeccable in Melbourne. He came up here last year for a couple of runs and nothing went right for him, he was probably a little immature then, but his runs were good. He’s a bit untapped, he could be something special. If he can keep his momentum and get an uninterrupted run I think he will be right in the finish.”

6. Bivouac (Godolphin)

James Cummings: “The boys were full of confidence in the horse that he could train on at four and tackle such a monumental assignment such as the Everest. He’s a healthy horse, we have him right where we want him. Those performances like the Golden Rose, the Newmarket, I think even the Run To The Rose - those sorts of performances put Bivouac well and truly into this race.”

Glen Boss: “He’s had a good prep. I wanted to get on him early and I spoke at length with James about his last preparation. His first-up run was very good. It appears he has a pattern where his peak run is his second run. When he won the Newmarket there wouldn’t have been any sprinter in Australia that could have beaten him that day. On his day he is the best sprinter in Australia and I have to give him the opportunity to produce that.”

Gordon Richards with Gytrash (Pic: Inglis)

7. Gytrash (Inglis)

Gordon Richards: “I couldn’t have him any better, the jockey is riding well, he’s drawn well, hopefully the track is a 4 or a 5 and everything has fallen into place. It won’t be on the score of fitness if he gets beaten, it’s because he’s not good enough. The horses you need to be drawn on the inside of you are there and the ones you want on the outside are there. It works out okay."

Jason Collett: “We’re happy with how he is. His work has been good, the horse is really well and things are on track. From what Gordon says he’s like back home that’s how he is at the moment and it gives you confidence. He is coming in fresh which is how he races best. He’s not one dimensional and we all saw the turn of foot when he beat Nature Strip.”

8. Eduardo (miRunners)

Joe Pride: “We don’t want to spend all our time and energy thinking about how we are going to bring Nature Strip undone, we need to think about how we are going to get the best out of our horse. I’d like him in his own comfortable rhythm, on speed hopefully not running ridiculous sectionals either him or horses around him so he gets his opportunity to run home as quick as he can. I haven’t really got in my mind how I want it to work out. He thinks he’s unbeatable at the moment. Everything he does is with such purpose and enthusiasm.”

Rachel King: “His form has been super and this has been his main aim the whole preparation. He’s going to be prepared to perfection. I’m happy enough with the draw, he has plenty of speed and he’s adaptable as well. It was exciting to jump aboard I’m in the trial and he gave me a really good feeling, I couldn’t be disappointed with it. It was good to get to know him a bit more and see what engine he’s got. He still had plenty left, he was only out there to have a stretch of the legs and have a blow. I know he won by a big margin but that was him with plenty left.”

9. Dollar For Dollar (Aquis)

Trainer Tony McEvoy (Pic: Steve Hart).

Tony* & Calvin McEvoy: “He’s continuing to put together personal best performances. He beat home Tofane and Santa Ana Lane last start in the Gilgai, that’s very good form. He’s a similar style of horse to Redzel, he rolls forward and makes his own luck. It worked twice for Redzel, we’d be happy if it worked just once for our boy.”

Tim Clark: “He’s a battle hardened, honest type of horse and drawn to take up a forward position which he likes. He’s going to get a soft run for a long way and he will be strong at the end of the race having run out 1400m. A testing 1200m at Randwick isn’t going to worry him. There are a few horses in the race that he has form around, he seems to be racing well at the moment and I’m sure he’s going to give his all.”

10. Tofane (Yulong)

Mike Moroney: “It’s been a faultless preparation, everything has gone to plan. She came through it well. It would have been nice to have gone up as the winner of the Gilgai, with a bit of luck in running I think she would have been, but it wasn’t to be. Her work was up to her best on Tuesday. She has got gate speed but we just haven’t had any luck with barrier draws in Sydney.”

Tommy Berry: “I took a lot of notice of her in the autumn when she beat me in the All Aged Stakes on Pierata. For her to beat him in the fashion she did was a good effort. Her run in the TJ Smith, running very good sectionals was impressive and before that she was beaten a head and a head in the Galaxy. Her Sydney form in the autumn was impressive and she’s come back with two nice lead up runs. Second-up they ran home in quick time and she was a bit unlucky behind them, it was a good thing in a way because she didn’t have that gutbusting run.”

11. Libertini (James Harron)

Regan Bayliss and Libertini ( Pic: Steve Hart)

Anthony Cummings: “In the spring of her three-year-old year she came back a little bit off her first-up run into her second-up run but the intention that time is different to what it is now. The routine is different in that we were heading towards a mile, it’s been a more specific preparation towards the 1200m. It’s not obvious to a lot yet how good she is. We’ve seen a lot of it here and get a fair idea but to the public she is yet to prove herself to in the fullest extent. All the draws offer a different set of challenges and with this one we rely on Regan and what he can do after the start.”

Regan Bayliss: “She’s drawn an awkward barrier but you can take a few positives out of it. She’ll be out of the hustle and bustle and I can let her find a rhythm, if we can get a bit of cover somewhere and camp off that good tempo she’ll be running off some nice sectionals late. I have a lot of faith in her ability so I’m looking forward to riding her and if we can get a bit of luck I know what she can do.”

12. Haut Brion Her (Three Bridges)

Chris Waller: “Outside her last start when she drew wide and things went against her she’s never been outside the first two. She over raced a touch last start, getting herself in a bit of trouble but they will roll along at a quick tempo so I think it is unlikely that there will be any horses over racing on Saturday. We are confident she can bounce back into the first two and hence her placing into this great race.”

Brenton Avdulla: “I think she is a good ride, she doesn’t miss top two especially at the 1200m too often so I’m happy to be on her. There’s a bit of form around her, I just take it the other day she went way too hard in front. She’s a Group 1 mare in the making, she profiles well, her six furlong record is super and she deserves her chance.”

All the fields, form and replays for Saturday's TAB Everest meeting at Randwick

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