Australian Racing: Latest on The Everest
Five locked in, seven to go – the field for The Everest is quickly taking shape and after the euphoria of the inaugural running slot holders are playing a fast game.
As prominent racehorse owner and breeder John Messara says: “nobody wants to miss out’’ on having their horse in the starting gates at Royal Randwick on October 13 racing for the lion’s share of $13 million.
Ward has long thought Lady Aurelia, winner of last year’s Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, is an ideal Everest horse and has Bound For Nowhere engaged in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes where he’ll meet Australian sprinter Redkirk Warrior.
“The owners are very keen to run (in The Everest),’’ Ward said of Lady Aurelia.
“A lot will depend on how she runs and comes out of the race. I look forward to hopefully getting the chance to go down to Australia. If she comes back to her best form they want to go.’’
Another international that has been spoken of as an Everest contender is the flying Godolphin galloper Harry Angel, locally Godolphin has star colt Kementari (who has beaten current favourite Trapeze Artist twice this year) considered a leading chance if a slot holder makes a move.
Then there are exciting three-year-olds like Menari, She Will Reign and Pierata, triple Group 1 winner Santa Ana Lane and the hugely popular Happy Clapper all waiting in the wings.
It’s no coincidence that a number of rising four-year-olds and potential stallion prospects are being kept in training to be aimed at The Everest.
John Messara said it’s a direct result of the impact The Everest had on the racing industry in its inaugural year.
“The best filly in the land (Shoals) and the best colt in the land (Trapeze Artist) are both in there because they want a shot at it,’’ he said.
“They’ve both had their careers extended because of the race and that’s a fantastic accolade.’’
Four months remain until The Everest for 2018 but it’s game on already, that’s for sure.
It’s Showtime For Messara Now Shoals Has Everest Berth
Now that owner John Messara safely has classy filly Shoals in the field for The Everest he’s turning his attention to finding a slot for his under-rated colt Showtime.
Shoals, the winner of three Group 1s this season including the Robert Sangster Stakes on May 5 at her latest start, was secured by The Star to be their runner in the $13 million sprint at Royal Randwick on October 13.
She joins Redzel, Trapeze Artist, In Her Time and Brave Smash as a confirmed runner.
Messara admits Shoals has taken him by surprise in the last 12 months, and regretted not buying a slot when they were first offered, but is adamant the best is yet to come.
“We decided after her win in the Sangster that we were probably only scratching the surface with her,’’ Messara said.
“She was caught three or four wide and midfield or further back and unleashed a powerful finishing run.
“She’s won three Group 1s out of 10 starts which Black Caviar had done, I’m not saying she’s a Black Caviar. This filly has come out of the woodwork, she’s so consistent and so genuine.’’
Shoals wins the Group 1 Surround Stakes at Royal Randwick on March 3
The Star raced Redkirk Warrior in the inaugural Everest and Messara said the deal to race Shoals will be beneficial to both the owners and the slot holder.
“They are good people and it’s going to be a good collaborative thing that will bring new people into the industry,’’ he said.
Shoals, $15 in TAB’s Everest market, returns to trainer Anthony Freedman’s stable next week to begin preparations for Australia’s richest turf race.
She’s already a Group 1 winner at Randwick, having taken out the Surround Stakes earlier this year and Messara said a new side to her was on show in her latest win that encouraged him to extend her career.
“Because of circumstance we had to ride her off the pace and gee how good was she,’’ he said.
“We thought she might be even better than what we think. It’d be a pity to retire her as a three-year-old and we thought why don’t we have another year of racing.”
Not content with one runner in The Everest, Messara said he’s keen to shop around the colt Showtime who he feels will be in for his best season.
The rising four-year-old has won two of his 12 starts but has recorded Group 1 weight-for-age placings behind two confirmed Everest runners in Brave Smash and Trapeze Artist in 2018.
“(Trainer) John Hawkes is adamant he’s going to win a big Group 1 race,’’ Messara said.
“He said ‘don’t worry about the physical prowess, he’s got that, it’s just the mental development and maturity that needs to come’.’’
Showtime is in work with the Hawkes team and it’s likely he’ll need to impress any remaining slot holders by winning a race like The Shorts, a month before The Everest.
That’s the race inaugural winner Redzel won prior to being secured by a slot holder.
“He doesn’t have to improve much and he’ll be in the finishing group,’’ Messara said.
“If I can persuade someone else to think along the same lines we might have him in the race too.’’