A $7.8m mountain to climb for sprinters in The Everest

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

October 10th, 2017

If the Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sport, then the richest turf race in the world, The Everest, is a minute and nine seconds of thunder down under.

Based on the slot-holder concept first used in the Pegasus World Cup, Racing New South Wales has introduced The Everest, a $A10 million ($US7.8 million) weight-for-age sprint over 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) which runs for the first time this Saturday, Oct. 14 (Friday night U.S. time).

Racing NSW wanted to get some overseas runners – and they were in the running to get Coolmore’s Caravaggio until he lost form – but they’ve had to settle for a field of 12 Australian-trained horses. That’s no barrier to quality, however – the exploits of numerous Australian-bred horses in Europe has shown they are probably the best turf sprinters in the world.

Heading the field is Chautauqua, the equal top-rated sprinter on the World Thoroughbred Rankings for 2015 and 2016, and joint second so far in 2017. The grey is a spectacular horse to watch, usually coming from near-last in the running, and he won his third T J Smith Stakes (G1) in April over the same Randwick trip.

With two defeats this season, however, Chautauqua is rated second favorite at $6 by the Australian TAB, behind $4.60 favorite She Will Reign. $A20,000 bargain yearling buy, She Will Reign won the Golden Slipper (G1) for 2-year-olds in March, and produced a spirited rally to win the Moir Stakes (G1) at her only race this spring.

The Lindsay Park training partnership of David Hayes, Ben Hayes, and Tom Dabernig has three runners for three different slot holders, and at least two are rated serious chances.

Vega Magic has won both his starts since joining Lindsay Park from West Australia, the most recent the seven-furlong Memsie Stakes (G1). He is third favorite at $6.50. The other well-fancied Lindsay Park runner at $9 is the well-travelled British-bred Redkirk Warrior, who was favorite for the Hong Kong Derby (1 ¼ miles) before moving to Australia, where he won the Newmarket Handicap (G1). Lindsay Park’s third runner, Tulip, is a $51 outsider.

The third 3-year-old filly in the race along with She Will Reign and Tulip is the speedy Houtzen, the Magic Millions Classic winner who won second up at group three level.

It wouldn’t be a top sprint in Australia without a representative of champion sire Snitzel, and his son Redzel is one of the better chances. He’s won both his spring races, the Concorde and the Shorts, showing great early speed and toughness at the end of his races.

Gai Waterhouse’s mare English has a good career record and looked close to her best when finishing second in the Premiere Stakes. Deploy and Clearly Innocent could be useful outside bets, while Fell Swoop needs to improve on his only run this spring. Japanese-bred Brave Smash adds a little more international interest.

Much will depend on how much early pace is on. But presuming they go quick, horses that will see the distance out strongly are preferred, which should suit horses like Vega Magic and Chautauqua.

SELECTIONS: 1. Vega Magic, 2. Redzel, 3. Chautauqua.