The gelded son of Snitzel stepped forward in season 2017/18 to stamp his name as the premier sprinter in the country. His season was headlined by a stirring victory in the inaugural The Everest and included 'support' victories in the G3 Concorde, G2 The Shorts, G1 Darley Classic and G2 Challenge Stakes. Added to that were second-placed runs in the G1 TJ Smith and G1 Lightning. The Snowden trained gelding began his ascent to the summit of the 2017 Everest with victory in the Concorde Stakes. The now 6YO returned in brilliant fashion in 2018 in the same race when tucked in behind the leader and pace-setter Invincible Star, jockey Kerrin McEvoy was patient before pulling the trigger at the right time to score a one length victory under 60.5kg. With a change of path leading to the Everest as a result of an elevated temperature, he lost no admirers when second-up after setting the speed in a track record at 1200m in the Premiere Stakes when fading late to be two lengths from the winner Santa Ana Lane. With a record on heavy of 6: 2-2-1 and a Randwick record of 12: 7-2-1, can he climb to the top again?
A G1 winner in the Spring at 1400m in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, the gelding stepped up in the Winter winning successive G1 races. Securing The Goodwood at WFA when storming home from back in the pack, the gelding then repeated the performance to secure the Stradbroke Handicap under 55.5kg. Returning for his Spring campaign in the 1100m The Heath, he carried 60kg in an eye-catching effort when running through the line after settling near the rear and charging home to be 1.5 lengths from the winner Ball Of Muscle. Second-up in the Premiere Stakes at the 1200m Randiwck Everest trip, he was taking on the Sydney course for the first time since finishing down the line in the G3 Hall Mark Stakes when 7.5 lengths from the winner, Redzel. Sitting back in the pack in the Premiere while the pace was being carved out up front, Melham came with a well-timed run to arrive along the rails and score victory by a head over his stablemate Shoals. The 6YO had a break-out season during his 5YO term and he looks to have picked up exactly where he left prior to his winter spell.
Le Romain is a three-time G1 winner and has proven to be a versatile campaigner throughout his career. Two of those G1 wins have been at the mile, while he is also the winner of the Canterbury Stakes at 1300m. Returning in the Autumn, he had a five start campaign where he raced at the elite level on each occasion. Unplaced at his first two runs back in The Galaxy and T J Smith were unplaced before a narrow 2nd to Trapeze Artist in a track record 1400m trip. Taken North to the Brisbane Winter Carnival he placed in both runs in the Doomben 10,000 and the Kingsford Smith Cup. Sent for a break, the gelding returned in the G3 Show County Quality where he lumped 61kg to a strong victory. Unplaced in the Tramway, he was out to the mile for the George Main where he led the chasing pack home behind the might Winx. Stepping back to the 1200m, one thing that will work in the 6YO's favour is the fact that he can handle affected going and with rain and a soft track looking the order of the day, he should be at home in the conditions.
Trainer Gerald Ryan was set to have dual representation in The Everest with Menari also securing a slot, however following a mishap that ended his career, it will be left to Trapeze Artist to fly the flag for Ryan in 2018. Arguably the premiere 3YO sprinting colt in Australia in the past season- Trapeze Artist stepped up each time he was asked to. After securing a G1 upset in the Golden Rose in the Spring, the colt returned in the Autumn to secure a first-up victory in the G2 Expressway Stakes. Second-up into the Hobartville at 1400m, he set the speed before his run peaked at the 100m and he was claimed by Kementari and Pierata. His season was rounded out the best way possible, with consecutive Group 1 wins. The first of those was in the 1200m T J Smith triumph over Redzel and was followed with an All Aged Stakes victory over Le Romain. Returning at 4, he carried 61kg at his return in the Theo Marks and was much sharper in the Premiere Stakes. With 4 wins from 8 outings at 1200m, he has improved deeper into his campaign in previous preparations.
Vega Magic will be back hoping to go one better than his 2017 result when finishing 2nd to Redzel, beaten just under one length. That race was the first time that the gelding had raced the Sydney way of going and was a solid effort. Heading into that 2017 event, the Hayes/Dabernig trained gelding had claimed the G1 Memsie prior to being fresh for The Everest where he was unlucky in finishing 2nd. Since The Everest last year, Vega Magic has raced 5 times, with his only win coming when returning for his current prep over 1200m at Flemington in the G3 Bletchingly. Able to show some his brilliance to secure the Bletchingly, it was a performance that convinced James Harron a slot in the 2018 Everest was available under his banner. Sent to the Memsie second-up at Caulfield, the effort was brave when ridden on the pace, with the off pace runners finishing best, yet he fought hard to be under a half-length from the winner. He will again go The Everest fresh out of the Memsie, the same as 2017 as he looks to go one better at just his second attempt in the right-handed direction.
The Japanese import was snapped up by slot-holder Chris Waller Racing in an interesting move that sees the horse stay with Darren Weir. The entire charged home to grab 3rd in the inaugural edition of The Everest at his 4th Australian start. In the Autumn he secured his maiden Group 1 win in taking out the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield over 1400m before finishing an agonisingly close 2nd to Redkirk Warrior in the Newmarket Handicap down the Flemington straight six. Unplaced at his final two starts for his prep in the TJ Smith and All Aged Stakes he was sent for a break. Returning over 1100m with 59kg in The Heath, the 6YO was ridden close to the speed when finding the line in good style to be one length from the winner Ball Of Muscle. Taken to Randwick for The Shorts, he again found Ball Of Muscle too sharp in front but was hitting the line in good style. Dropped back to 1000m for the Moir, he ran through the line strongly for 2nd behind Viddora. He was four runs into his prep when 3rd in last year’s Everest, the same number he will be in 2018.
The War Front entire will become the first internationally prepared horse to target The Everest. Owned by Coolmore, the 4YO will also race under the slot owned by the breeding giant. Aidan O'Brien produced a training masterstroke to prepare U S Navy Flag to win his most recent start when claiming the G1 July Cup at Newmarket at 1200m. The Newmarket 1200m is one of the toughest distances to take on in world racing with the undulating nature and uphill portions of the course making it a taxing trip. That didn’t bother the gun 4YO who was able to lead throughout and break the field with a 1.75 length victory. The colt started his prep over 1400m in the Irish 2000 Guineas prelude at Leopardstown on a heavy track and was put over the mile at each of his next 3 starts. Taken to Longchamp second-up for the French 2000 Guineas, he was three lengths from the winner before the bravest of 2nd's in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas. Taking on Royal Ascot for the St James palace Stakes at the mile he was well beaten before dropping back to the six furlongs when securing the July Cup. He will be fresh into The Everest which is a big query at his maiden Australian start, however with four of his five career wins at 1200m, he has the class to prevail.
During the Sydney Autumn, the mare secured The Galaxy defeating fellow Everest aspirant English when carrying a half-kilo more weight. Controversy then came into the equation with Smith stood down by Racing NSW stewards. That has seen Kris Lees taken on the mare and in a twist of fate, Lees will now saddle three runners in The Everest. Lees sent In Her Time out for the first time under his care in the G2 Premiere Stakes in a race that had a real Everest prelude about it with six (at the time) slot holders in the field. Coming into the race the mare had been to the trials once to prepare in a tidy effort at 1000m. With Corey Brown up for the Premiere, he had the mare close to the speed and was solid to the line to run under a half-length from the winner Santa Ana Lane. Missing a placing just once in six appearances when second-up, that miss came at just her second ever career start when she was pitch-forked from a Canterbury maiden win into the G2 Tea Rose Stakes. At the Randwick 1200m her record is 5: 3-0-2.
Anthony Freedman had a superb season that reaped 6 G1 wins, with those 6 wins split between two horses. Those two horses are now both confirmed Everest invitees, with Shoals joining stable-mate Santa Ana Lane. Apart from one 'off-day' in the G3 Kevin Hayes Stakes at Caulfield, Shoals has been in the top-two at each of her other 9 career starts, winning 7 of them. The daughter of Fastnet Rock had her season shut-down after a G1 victory in the UBET Classic at Morphettville over 1200m whe swooping home to a stylish victory. Resuming in the G2 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley, she was settled mid-field as Nature Strip was blazing the pace in front that set-up a new 1000m track record at The Valley. Given a Cranbourne trial to keep sharp prior to her next start, the mare was then taken to Randwick for the Premiere Stakes. Settling near the rear of the pack she was charging home out wide and it was only her stable-mate Santa Ana Lane up the rails that beat her to the post. With a perfect record on affected ground (2 from 2 on soft and 1 from 1 on heavy), the predicted wet track will be ideal.
Replacing the slot vacated by the withdrawal of English, slot holder Damion Flowers has arguably been able to pick up a better chance by taking on Viddora. The mare has two Group 1 sprinting victories in her past five starts and comes into the race a last start G1 winner after claiming the Moir Stakes at The Valley. Only Viddora and US Navy Flag can boast a last start victory at the elite level in their form-lines. After a 2nd and a 4th in the Moir and Manikato at The Valley, Lloyd Kennewell took his star mare to Perth for the Winterbottom where she finished strongly from back in the pack to claim a deserved first G1 victory. Back across to the East Coast for her next start at Gold Coast in the Magic Millions Sprint, she was too classy for her opponents to score a comfortable 2.25 length victory. Sent for a break after two runs in the Adelaide Winter Carnival, she returned to the track in great style with victory in the Moir, working home strongly to claim the 1000m event. Her second-up record is tidy at 7: 2-2-0 and from three races right-handed is 3: 1-2-0.
After originally having Menari, Max Whitby was without a contestant for his slot for some time after the Spring plans for Menari were shelved owing to injury. Enter Graff, the colt stepping into the void off the back of an impressive start to the Spring. Winning first-up in the G3 San Domenico, he was too slick in scoring a commanding 2.5 length victory on the soft 5 to remain undefeated. Second-up in the Run To The Rose, he was further back in the run but was really warming up in the closing stages to get within 0.8 length of the winner Lean Mean Machine and take 2nd placing. Taking on the first G1 of his career in the Golden Rose, he was again doing his best work late when one length behind The Autumn Sun. The Star Witness colt will become the first 3YO colt in an Everest after the inaugural 2017 edition had three 3YO fillies take part. With just 53kg on his back, he faces the sternest test of his career, however Kris Lees is confident he has a potential sat on his hands.
Ensuring Godolphin are represented in the race following the scratching of Home Of The Brave, James Cummings will still have a runner in The Everest with Osborne Bulls taking his place in the field. The 5YO has missed a placing just once in his 12 start career, that miss coming last start when taking on G1 competition for the first time in the Rupert Clarke Stakes. Carrying 55kg, Craig Williams had the gelding near the rear as the turned for home and there was plenty to like about the way he found the line to be 1.3 lengths from the winner Jungle Cat. The gelding was second-up in that race after returning in the Listed Regal Roller at Caulfield where he again was swooping hard to arrive on the line for the narrowest of victories under 59kg. Brave Smash finished 2nd in the Regal Roller in 2017 under 54kg before finishing 3rd in The Everest 3 starts later. Osborne Bulls is 2 from 2 on the soft and from 6 attempts at 1200m has 5 wins and a 3rd. Tommy Berry was due to ride Home Of The Brave and has been booked for the Bull.
February 1 2017, the date that the racing landscape changed not only in NSW, but across the world when Racing NSW announced a new race to their Spring calendar.
The Everest was announced as the newest race in Australia and with it would come a record level of prizemoney with $10 million prizemoney on offer. After unprecedented success of the inaugural renewal, the 2018 edition has been further boosted and offers a total of $10 million in prizemoney, the richest thoroughbred race held on turf.
Not only will it be the richest race held on turf, it is the richest race in Australia, surpassing the Melbourne Cup, it will also become the richest race in the world over 1200m (six furlongs) with the winner set to pocket a figure greater than the total prizemoney of the Melbourne Cup.
Entry to the race is restricted to the 12 ‘invited’ runners, with spots being allocated by the 'slot holders' that include organisations such as TAB and the ATC and individuals, such as Mx Whitby. These invitations come at a cost of $600,000 with connections purchasing the slot for a three year period. Connections are then able to sell this slot should they not have the runner to contest the race.
Conditions of the race are standard weight for age and as the race is an invitational, it will carry restricted status and not any Group classification. The Everest is held at Randwick Racecourse with the second edition to take place on Saturday 13 October 2018 as part of the Sydney Spring Carnival