Vega Magic snapped up for The Everest
THE three placegetters in the inaugural The Everest will clash again in the world's richest turf race after it was announced Vega Magic is a confirmed starter.
Vega Magic split Redzel and Brave Smash in The Everest last year and all three sprinters have now been selected to contest the $13 million race at Royal Randwick on October 13.
A brilliant, winning return to racing by Vega Magic in the Bletchingly Stakes at Caulfield last Saturday was all that was needed for slot-holder James Harron to make his move.
"We have had Vega Magic on our radar for some weeks now,'' Harron said on Sunday.
"I guess we have been waiting for a real 'top end' horse and Vega Magic showed in the Bletchingly Stakes that he is back and in winning form.
"We think he is going to be a super chance in The Everest. He is with a great team and they have a formula for success.''
Vega Magic, trained by David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, was the unlucky runner in the inaugural The Everest last year. He was three and four wide throughout and yet still ran a close second to Redzel.
Ironically, Redzel raced in James Harron's Everest slot last year but has already been snapped up by Yulong Investments for the big race this spring.
The other definite Everest runners are Trapeze Artist (Aquis), In Her Time (TAB), Brave Smash (Chris Waller), Shoals (The Star), English (Damion Flower), Santa Ana Lane (Inglis), US Navy Flag (Coolmore) and Menari (Max Whitby and Neil Werrett).
Vega Magic firmed in Everest betting from $26 into $8 with Ladbrokes after his Bletchingly Stakes win. Trapeze Artist remains favourite at $5.
Every Everest runner is a Group 1 winner this season with only Menari yet to win at the highest level.
But Menari is so highly regarded as a sprinter that he is on the fourth line of Everest betting at $10.
Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes said Vega Magic is going "every bit as good now as he was last year" after his runaway Bletchingly Stakes win.
"Vega Magic was fantastic,'' Hayes said. "He raced a little bit fresh as he went into the race off only one trial so there is a nice improvement in him.
"We wanted a bit of the 'X-factor' about him so we put blinkers on to show everyone he is back in form.''
Hayes said he will follow the same program that nearly provided an Everest triumph for Vega Magic last year with the powerful chestnut to race next in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield later next month.
"He won the Memsie in a cakewalk last year,'' Hayes said
"This is a bit like last year as we had to show everyone he is the right horse for the job then it is a juggling act to make sure we don't overdo it and have him peaking on the big day.
"We think we got it right last year but we didn't get much luck in the run and only just failed. We have a template there that works.''
SCHOFIELD BACKS IN KEMENTARI FOR EVEREST SLOT
CHAMPION jockey Glyn Schofield is adamant Kementari would be very competitive in the $13 million The Everest if the boom Godolphin galloper gains a start.
"If Kementari does take up a place in The Everest, he will give it a shake,'' Schofield said on Sunday.
Schofield pointed out that Kementari also holds a 2-1 advantage in head-to-head clashes with Trapeze Artist, the $5 favourite with Ladbrokes for The Everest at Royal Randwick on October 13.
Kementari, winner of the Group 1 Randwick Guineas last autumn, can make an Everest statement when he resumes racing in the Group 2 $200,000 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The weight-for-age sprint headlines the first Saturday meeting of the new season and is likely to attract an outstanding field including Pierata (James McDonald), She Will Reign (Kerrin McEvoy) and Music Magnate.
Schofield returned last week from a European holiday but was straight back into the saddle, riding Kementari in a barrier trial at Rosehill last week finishing third to She Will Reign.
"I especially came back to trial him last Monday and he didn't disappoint me at all,'' Schofield said.
"He was nice and sharp and I'm really looking forward to him getting back on track and showing what he is capable of.''
Pierata and She Will Reign have also trialled impressively in recent weeks and will be out to impress claims for a possible Everest start.
TWO GOLD PASSES REMAIN FOR MOUNTAIN HIKE
WITH only two Everest slots left, where does that leave Nature Strip, the runaway winner of the Lightning Stakes last Saturday?
The Australian Turf Club and Greg Ingham's GPI Racing have the remaining two Everest slots with both likely to keep their options open for some weeks.
ATC can play the waiting game now knowing it has a deep pool of sprinting talent still left to choose from while Ingham is a part-owner of champion sprinter Chautauqua, who is still in The Everest mix if Team Hawkes can resolve the grey gelding's barrier issues.
Nature Strip has won seven of his 10 starts but probably needs to prove himself against the elite sprinters in one of the early spring features to get into The Everest field.