The biggest sprint race on the Australian racing calendar is here, with 12 of the country’s most elite sprinters lining up in the $15million TAB Everest over 1200m at Randwick on Saturday, October 16th.
Tim Geers previews the chances of every runner below, including the speed map and betting strategy.
Speed map taken from RacingNSW.
1. Nature Strip – I often look to take Nature Strip on but I just think this race sets up so well for him. He was dominant first up in the Concorde, where he smoked subsequent G1 winner Wild Ruler, with Trekking back in 3rd. He then got done by Eduardo in The Shorts, an almost identical scenario to last preparation in the Challenge Stakes. He followed up that Challenge Stakes defeat with a romp in the TJ Smith Stakes, winning by 2L over this track and distance on a similar surface to what he will face on Saturday. He’ll sit outside Eduardo from barrier 10 and he’s quite clearly the horse to beat, and a definite bet.
2. Classique Legend – Just a fascinating angle to this race, the big grey. At his best, he’d be favourite and probably winning this race. But his set up this time around is just so different. He last raced in the Hong Kong Sprint last December, where he failed badly. They got him right after that and he was absolutely humming, but then he bled and was returned to Australia. Now comes into a high-pressure G1-quality sprint first up with three trials under his belt, but how will he handle the race pressure? Like I mentioned, if he was at his best, he’d probably win, but how are we to know? Another negative is the track, which he won’t want to be any worse than soft, but the barrier draw was the big positive for him, as he should get a lovely run behind a good speed. I think I have to save on him and I think he’ll continue to drift.
3. Eduardo – Took the scalp of Nature Strip (again) first up in The Shorts. He did the exact same thing in the Challenge Stakes last preparation, and then bolted in by 3.5L in The Galaxy second up. He ran well but wasn’t up to Nature Strip third up in the TJ Smith, but it’s interesting to note they come to The Everest second up instead of third up. He loves the wet, with seven wins from nine starts, looks the likely leader on paper, but whether a high-pressure 1200m against these horses just sees him out is the query.
Eduardo rolls Nature Strip in the Shorts!
Thoughts on the result? pic.twitter.com/nW7rXHVt9d
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) September 18, 2021
4. Gytrash – Has to be rated a chance here on the back of his first up run in The Shorts behind Nature Strip and Eduardo, where he got badly held up in the final 100m or so. He arguably goes close to winning that race had the gap not closed. Comes here with a good second up record, a good record on wet ground and the good form reference as mentioned. The main queries for him are barrier 1, which likely sees him get back three or even four pairs back on the rail, and the 1200m. He’s won just one of his nine starts at 1200m. Chance.
5. Trekking – Has run in this race the past two years, resulting in a 3rd place finish in 2019 and then a 4th placing last year. Hasn’t had any luck in his two runs back from a spell, sitting three-wide the trip in the Concorde first up before being badly held up in the Moir Stakes last start. Arguably should have won that race. Draws a lovely barrier in 4 here but the wet track isn’t to his liking. Place chance.
6. Masked Crusader – Seriously impressive win in the Premiere Stakes last start after giving them all a big head start. Whether that is the A form reference is a query, as he beat Standout and Embracer. Barrier 9 isn’t the worst for him as he gets back anyway, but he wouldn’t want to be giving these horses a 2-3L head start from the jump like he has been all prep. He has a phenomenal record at 1200m but he faces a big task of running them down if he’s spotting them a good break on the turn.
Masked Crusader is all class. 🔥
— Racing.com (@Racing) October 2, 2021
7. Wild Ruler – Was no match for Nature Strip first up in the Concorde but then went to Melbourne and took out the Moir Stakes. Not sure that is the strongest form reference and he gets a couple of key negatives here, namely the wet track and the awkward barrier draw. Can’t have him.
8. The Inferno – Going super, the former Singapore star. Was impressive in the McEwen Stakes two starts ago and then very good behind Wild Ruler in the Moir last start. Has an outstanding record at 1200m, with six wins from eight starts. Hard to say if he’s truly at his best in wet ground as he’s had just the one start on it, but that was when he won the McEwen. Wide barrier not ideal but not the end of the world for him given he gets back anyway. Place chance.
What a week for @daniel_moor
— Matt Moore (@mattmoore_78) September 24, 2021
9. Embracer – Not up to this level and unlikely to be suited by wet ground. Masked Crusader gave him a start and a beating last start, and I doubt that’s the A form reference. Be interesting to see where he lands here; I suspect one pair back off the leaders. Won’t be good enough.
10. Lost And Running – Fascinating to see what tactics they employ on Lost And Running. His best performances last prep were when he was able to lead and dictate, but they haven’t looked to do the same with him so far this prep. He went back in The Shorts, and then settled just off the leaders last start. Do they try and throw a spanner in the works by holding the lead from barrier 2? He’s not going well enough/isn’t good enough just yet.
11. Libertini – She is a flying machine when fresh and they’ve deliberately targeted this race first up, but she just doesn’t go on rain-affected tracks so that puts an end to any chance she had. She might as well not run.
12. Home Affairs – The X-factor in the race! Adds a different dimension and he just reeks of Yes Yes Yes as the three-year-old with a low weight and Glen Boss aboard. Yes Yes Yes contested the Golden Rose at 1400m before dropping back to 1200m for The Everest, whereas Home Affairs on the Heritage Stakes first up at 1100m and now lines up in The Everest second up. He did get all favours last start on a track that played very favourably to those on speed and on the rails, but the form has stood up with Paulele coming out and winning last weekend. Doubt he leads this field from barrier 6 but I think he has to be included in the numbers at double figure odds.
Home Affairs blitzes them in the Heritage Stakes.
Everest horse for Coolmore? pic.twitter.com/LvWGUeE5kz
— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) September 25, 2021
I can’t go past (1) Nature Strip here. I think at this moment, he’s the best horse in the field with the best set up. If he repeats his TJ Smith run, he wins. (2) Classique Legend brings a set up that is unconventional and probably not great all things considered, but at his best he’d probably win this. Les Bridge is a freak and I have to save on the grey just in case he somehow does show up at his best. (12) Home Affairs is the X-factor in the race and has to be thrown in, while (6) Masked Crusader could be dangerous if he’s within striking distance on the turn.
2 units WIN Nature Strip, 0.5 units WIN Classique Legend, 0.25 units WIN Home Affairs