Unlike the first two runnings of this race, which were both run on a Heavy track, Saturday's event will be run on Good ground. The rail will be in the True position.
We've provided a comprehensive preview of the race below, with a summary of the tempo including our speed map, along with comments on every runner in the race and our overall betting selections.
*Market courtesy of BetEasy. Odds correct at the time of publishing.
Santa Ana Lane
Yes Yes Yes
In Her Time
I don't think this is a simple speedmap at all. With (4) Nature Strip now in the race, suddenly the tempo looks fairly good. Unlike previous years where (3) Redzel has been able to dictate at a leisurely pace, Nature Strip will ensure they run along up front. He will be expected to scorch across to the rail from barrier 12, but we don't really know what the tactics on (7) Ten Sovereigns will be from barrier 11. He's shown good early speed in the UK and his best performances have come when he bowls along in front. Could they be tempted to try and hold out Nature Strip? If Nature Strip gets clear of him, will he come across with him and sit outside the leader, or will Redzel kick up from barrier 7 and keep one of them posted three wide? There's a very real chance one of them could be posted three wide on speed. Then we have (9) Sunlight drawn in barrier 6 and she's got plenty of early toe herself. She has shown the ability to sit midfield in the past and I suspect they'll be happy to settle in behind the front runners. (11) Arcadia Queen will look to make use of her good draw to hold a prominent position, but just how far forward will they settle and will she have the early zip to keep up with the hot speed? Inside her is (2) Pierata, who I highly doubt will want to be caught all the way back near the tail on the rail, so he may look to hold them out for a midfield position, which in turn pushes something else out in the three wide line. (10) In Her Time comes into this fresh and has done her best race when settling forward of midfield, but there look good speed ahead of her so she may have to be content with a spot in the back half of the field. Again, if she pushes through, it pushes something outside her three wide. The horses in that position are likely to be (6) Classique Legend or (12) Yes Yes Yes, who draw 8 and 9 respectively. Unless they snag them back and let the speed go, in which case they may be strung out enough to find a position one off the fence. (5) Trekking and (8) Alizee will defnitely be toward the rear, while barrier 2 may prove a bit tricky for (1) Santa Ana Lane, who will also be out the back. Overall, a very tricky speed map. I think we'll see Nature Strip ridden aggressively to lead and from there, it all depends on what the likes of Ten Sovereigns and Redzel choose to do as to which horses potentially get posted wide without cover. To my eye, this should be run at a true tempo, something which we haven't seen in the past two years.
(1) Santa Ana Lane: I think he's absolutely flying this horse. His first up run at Flemington in the G2 Gilgai Stakes was enormous. He carried top weight of 60kg and settled last on a day that was playing favourably to leaders, and rattled off the fastest final sectionals of the race to get within Sunlight, who was third up from a spell and looked ideally suited to the race. He always improves with that first up run under his belt. You only have to look back to this stage last prep when he ran 5th first up in Melbourne before charging clear to post a 3.5L win in the G1 TJ Smith Stakes. That race was over this track and distance and he beat Osbourne Bulls and Sunlight. With tempo on, he will be motoring home, the only little query for him is the speedmap. He drew 8 in the TJ Smith, which allowed him to come widest in the straight with an uninterrupted run. From barrier 2 there is every chance he'll be last on the rails throughout the run. If he can get clear air, look out.
(2) Pierata: He's stamped himself as one of the leading sprinters in the country this preparation. He's a five-year-old and in the peak of his career now. His first up run behind Redzel was terrific and his last-start win in the G2 The Shorts was even better, where he turned the tables on Redzel and upstaged Classique Legend. The query I have is with that form. Home Of The Brave came out of that race and ran 2nd to Brutal, but Classique Legend disappointed. Barrier 1 also looks awkward for this horse, as he might find himself shuffled back in the second half of the field on the rail, unless they try to poke through and hold a spot in midfield. He'll need luck at some stage. Not without a chance but I'm looking elsewhere.
(3) Redzel: Winner of the first two runnings of The Everest and looking to make it three on the bounce. He comes into this third up as he has done previously. First up he got the better of Pierata but that horse turned the tables on him last start, with Classique Legend splitting the two. His third up record is terrific with four wins from eight starts and he obviously has an exceptional record at the Randwick 1200m. The Snowden stable are grand final trainers; it's not unusual for a horse to put in what seems a subpar performance and then bounce off that to improve significantly for their main target race. The issue today is the speed. In his two Everest wins, he's had the run of the race up front with a lack of tempo allowing him to just keep kicking. He won't be leading this field I wouldn't have though, with the likes of Nature Strip involved. He might have to be content to take a sit on his heels and although he's had no problem winning from there in the past, it's not his best asset and this year's race could be set up for something coming from off the pace.
(4) Nature Strip: A fascinating and much-needed late addition to the race. He comes into this on the back of a G1 victory in the Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley, where they allowed him to use his customary speed to his advantage. From the wide barrier today they have no issue but to roll forward so I doubt Tim Clark will be waiting around to see what happens inside him. I think that's a really positive jockey booking as Clark is one of the best frontrunning riders in the country. The obvious issue for this horse is he's yet to prove his ability to run a strong 1200m at the elite level. Even last start over 1000m he fell in and had had enough on the line. Granted, he jumped slow and had to hunt up to find the lead, but if he does that here he'll be cactus at the 200m. The 1200m in a high-pressure, G1 quality race is a box he's yet to tick.
(5) Trekking: Gained entry with victory in the G2 Schillachi Stakes at Caulfield last weekend. He ran well in defeat behind Nature Strip first up over 1000m in the Moir, in a race that was wholly unsuitable for him. He needs at least 1200m and with his racing pattern, he was always going to struggle at the Valley. He has a few things in his favour: he's undefeated at this track and distance, he'll get the firm ground he needs and he'll likely get the speed he needs to bring him into the race. He'll just let the race unfold in front of him from barrier 5, so expect to see him toward the back of the field. He can run well but at this stage he appears slightly outclassed.
(6) Classique Legend: Came into this preparation with an enormous boom on him and has been thrown straight in the deep end. He had a small issue leading into his first up run, so his effort to finish 2nd behind Pierata was outstanding. He looked very disappointing last start behind Brutal in the G2 Premiere Stakes, but he ran some of the best sectionals in a race that wasn't run to suit. With that said, Home Of The Brave was pulling away from him again on the line and that's a concern for me. Perhaps a much bigger field with a much better tempo will really see him flourish. The speed map is the other concern, as he potentially could find himself three-wide without cover. $18 is a great price for him now and he's probably one I won't be losing on.
(7) Ten Sovereigns: The sole international runner in the field, from the Aidan O'Brien stable. He's only a lightly-raced horse with just seven starts to his name, four of which have been wins. Two of those have been at Group 1 level and It's very important to note that all four of his wins have been at 1200m. Two starts back was his career pinnacle with a dominant victory in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket. He won by 2.8L and the horse that ran 2nd then came out and won a G1 in France at his next start. I'd put a line through Ten Sovereigns' last run when he dropped back to 1000m. I suspect he'll be ridden forward from barrier 11 as he's showed plenty of early speed and Ryan Moore has flown in for the ride. We'll get a good gauge on how the international sprinters line up with our best here.
(8) Alizee: Godolphin chose to use their slot on Alizee, with the aim of keeping her fresh and at 1200m to maximise her lethal turn of foot. Her past four starts over 1200m have all been victories and her past four starts when first up from a spell have also been wins, so you can see their thinking. She's a three-time Group 1 winner but none of those have been over 1200m. She's got a great record at the track and distance and she'll just let the race unfold ahead of her from barrier 10. I think they'll really set it up for a horse like her, and she'll get a clear run down the outside so there shouldn't be any traffic problems. She's a smokey but I would have thought there's better sprinters than her in this field.
(9) Sunlight: I think she had her birthday at Flemington last start when she defeated Santa Ana Lane in the G2 Gilgai Stakes. She was undefeated third up leading into that and also undefeated at 1200m down the straight. The track had been playing favourably to leaders and she cruised to the front without a great deal of pressure. She met Santa Ana Lane when he was first up and he settled at the very back of the field. She did a good job to win but I thought she was entitled to. With that said, she's brave and she only gets better the further she goes into her preparation so she'll be spot on for this. She's won seven of her 10 races over 1200m leading into this. Barrier 6 is a good draw for her but her asset has been her speed and tenacity, but she won't be leading this field. She can run her usual honest race but I doubt she's the winner.
(10) In Her Time: The only runner to come into this first up from a spell (other than Ten Sovereigns who has travelled from overseas). That's obviously been a deliberate move from the stable as she's won five of her eight starts when first up. She won the G1 Black Caviar Lightning first up last prep over 1000m at Flemington, where she beat Osbourne Bulls and Sunlight, so she's obviously capable on her day. She's got a great record at the track and distance with three wins and two placings from six starts and she draws well in barrier 4. Ideally, they'd have her ridden in midfield here, but there looks a number of horses that will be looking to settle in the same spot or even further forward, so she might have to settle in the second half of the field. She should get her chance and she's a place chance but I have others ahead of her.
(11) Arcadia Queen: The X-factor in the race. I'm in love with this mare. She's won six of her seven career starts, including a 4.5L demolition job in the G1 Kingston Town Classic over 1800m in Perth at the end of last year. They then announced the plan very early to set her for The Everest, which was surprising given the Cox Plate looked the logical target, but she's such a versatile mare that winning this over 1200m definitely isn't out of the question. She had her first run for nine months in the Theo Marks Stakes over 1300m and she couldn't have been more impressive, pulling away to win by just under 2L. She's been back to the trials to keep her ticking over and she went super. She's drawn barrier 3 here, which is ideal for her. We saw her box seat first up so she has the ability to settle on speed, but I doubt they'll bustle her out of the gates. I think JMac will just let her find her feet and settle wherever she's comfortable and I think that will be in midfield. The only query is whether there's other horses here that are too sharp for her over 1200m, but she's a star and I think she'll go very close.
(12) Yes Yes Yes: The lone three-year-old in the race. He ran well first up over this distance behind Bivouac and then ran a very brave race in defeat to that same horse in the G1 Golden Rose last start. That was over 1400m so he drops back to the 1200m, but we've seen horses with his profile run well in this race before. He obviously gets a weight advantage over the rest of the field given the weight-for-age conditions of the race and he also gets blinkers applied for the first time. His barrier draw is a touch awkward but he'll probably settle in the back half of the field and try to find a back to follow into the straight. The Bivouac form has stacked up all over the country and I think he'll run honestly, but I suspect this lot will be a bit too hot for him at this stage of his career.
What a race! I'm going for the X-factor in the race, which is (11) Arcadia Queen. I think she's the best mare in the country by some distance and I'm excited to see what she can do against the biggest and best sprinters in the land. Of course the query is whether she is able to conquer the elite sprinters over 1200m, but she has her fair share of brilliance. (1) Santa Ana Lane is low flying and you only have to look back at what he did over this track and distance first up last prep to make him the one to beat here. The map is the query for him but with any luck, he'll be right in the finish. (6) Classique Legend appeared disappointing last start but I think he'll go much better with a bigger field and hotter tempo in this race. Team Snowden are grand final trainers and (3) Redzel will be spot on, while (2) Pierata has returned in career-best form and has obvious claims. (7) Ten Sovereigns the unknown.
1st (11) ARCADIA QUEEN ($4.80)
2nd (1) SANTA ANA LANE ($4.80)
3rd (6) CLASSIQUE LEGEND ($18)
4th (3) REDZEL ($11)
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