The hype around the $13 million TAB Everest has reached a crescendo in recent weeks as the remaining slot holders have jostled to secure their slot runners.
For a brief moment, there was much conjecture over whether Nature Strip would get a run, and whether Chautauqua would leave the starting gates in order to claim a place in the running of the world’s richest race on turf at the same track and distance at which he claimed 3 consecutive TJ Smith titles. Whilst the race was heavily debated over the last weekend, it was the October long weekend’s racing which supplied us with the final lead up runs for the leading chances.
Firstly, on Friday the 29th of September Chautauqua refused to leave the starting gates for what was to be his last chance and Nature Strip quickly folded out of Everest contention when finishing down the track in the Group 1 Moir Stakes quinellaed by Viddora (Damion Flower) and Brave Smash (Chris Waller Racing).
The following day at Randwick the 1200m track record fell when Santa Ana Lane (Inglis), Shoals (The Star) and In Her Time (TAB) finished across the line almost simultaneously in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes.
Connections would have been pleased with the efforts of early favourite Trapeze Artist (Aquis) and last year’s Everest conqueror Redzel (Yulong Investments) in finishing 4th and 5th respectively in preparation for their grand final on the 13th of October.
The contenders lying patiently in waiting on the October long weekend were the 3-year-old Graff (Max Whitby), last year’s runner up Vega Magic (James Harron), the ever consistent Le Romain (GPI Racing), the Aidan O’Brien trained July Cup winner US Navy Flag (Coolmore), and Osborne Bulls (ATC) – winner of the Luskin Star over the Scone Cup Carnival!
A case can be made for every horse in this year’s field. The rain predicted in Sydney this week can only add to the intrigue as we seek to delve through the wet track form of the various runners. As a betting race, it is a beauty.
We are not sure Racing NSW could have asked for a better lead up to this year’s edition to the 2018 TAB Everest. For what it’s worth, Morgan + English will be cheering on our clients’ interests in the big race: Graff, In Her Time and Le Romain all trained by the master trainer Kris Lees, Trapeze Artist running in the slot for Aquis Farm, and Osborne Bulls, who will be the first runner for Godolphin in the $13 million race. Good luck to all those involved, a win would be an enormous thrill!
The $1.3 million The Kosciuszko will also be run and won on TAB Everest Day and there has been almost as much intrigue into this new race designed specifically for country-trained horses as there has been into The Everest.
In a lottery style promotion, members of the public were given the opportunity to purchase a $5 ticket to enter the draw the win 1 of 12 slots in the $1.3 million race, which is a joint venture between RacingNSW, Tabcorp and the Australian Hotels Association (AHA).
The winning ticket holders were drawn on Friday, 14 September and each had 4 weeks to choose a country-trained runner to fill their available slot (similar to the Everest concept).
The field: The Monstar (Brett Cavanough, Scone), Awesome Pluck (Jenny Graham, Port Macquarie), Sharpe Hussler (Cameron Crockett, Mudgee), Belflyer (John Shelton, Grafton), After All That (Rodney Northam, Scone), Victorem (Jenny Graham, Port Macquarie), Suncraze (Melanie O’Gorman, Tamworth), Don’t Give A Damn (Danny Williams, Goulburn), Snitz (Matthew Dunn, Murwillumbah), Fuel (Wayne Wilkes, Taree), Ruthless Agent (Kurt Goldman, Goulburn), O So Hazy (Scott Spackman, Wagga Wagga).
For the country towns that may be doing it tough during the drought, and for community spirit in general, the Kosciuszko is a wonderful concept designed to encourage owners to race horses in the country and build a following of racing in regional areas.
On the back of the overwhelming success of the Country Championships concept staged during The Championships, RacingNSW, Tabcorp and the AHA should be applauded as they continue to encourage participation and shape racing interest in rural communities. After all, racing participants in country towns are the lifeblood of the industry!
Our home town of Scone is represented by two runners both with strong chances – After All That (trained by Rod Northam) and The Monstar (trained by Brett Cavanough).
Following the running of the Group 2 The Shorts at Royal Randwick on the 15th of September, the connections of these horses may have been asking for an Everest slot after finishing a length, and two lengths from the winner Ball Of Muscle respectively (runner up, Brave Smash, is one of the leading chances in The Everest).
NSW Country Horse of the Year The Monstar currently sits as an $4.60 chance and After All That is an $8 chance. Whilst is will be difficult to topple the favourite, we are sure the Cavanough stable and the Northam stable would be tickled pink with the preparation of their horses going into this lucrative race, and the team at Morgan + English wish them the best of luck in bringing the coveted Kosciuszko trophy back to our home town of Scone.