There is not as much pressure on me with The Everest on Saturday, just the potential of a massive payday. It’s a completely different feeling from usual because I’m a slot-holder, rather than a trainer.
But the focus from around the world is almost the same on this race as it is on Winx.
When my team of investors decided to back a $6000,000 slot, I couldn’t imagine The Everest would capture so much talk from around the world.
Contender: Craig Williams aboard Brave Smash, winning the Futurity Stakes earlier this year.Credit:AAP
I have been in many parts of the racing globe in the past few months and everyone wants to know about The Everest and Winx.
They want to know how to get a run to The Everest. And what it means to Australia.
I tell them that it’s scary to think how far this race could go in the future, considering what it has done in just two years. Racing NSW should be congratulated for leading the way again.
To put it in context, go back to last week’s Turnbull Stakes with Winx. That was worth less than five per cent of what The Everest is.
Still, for me, the pressure was far more intense, especially in the last 300m, sweating on the moment when Hugh Bowman magically weaved his way into the clear.
But she got the job done again. That’s Winx. It was a great relief for me and fortunately she came through that race very well. She heads to her next assignment with her winning run intact. Back to The Everest. The preparation has been going for more than six months. Once we realised that we didn’t have the right horse for the race, we had to find one to represent myself and my investors.
We ended up with Brave Smash from the Darren Weir stable. I believe he gives us a great opportunity to take out Australia’s richest race.
The great thing about this race is watching it take shape. Some slot-holders take their positions early, which forces others to make sure they are not left behind.
We wanted a genuine contender and weighed up a lot of considerations. Firstly, the horse’s ability. Brave Smash being placed in the race last year gave him the right credentials. He is a horse that handles all conditions and a horse that wouldn’t be affected by barrier draws. We also have a very good rider in Hugh Bowman, who is equal to the best in the world under the pressure of the big races, as we saw last week.
We have a trainer in Darren Weir, whose accomplishments in the past couple of seasons are mind-blowing.
My team gets a lot of winners but Darren gets more, a lot more. He and his team are getting winners every day of the week, everywhere. His training approach of keeping his horses up for a long time and taking them to where they can win is groundbreaking.
It’s something I look up too, and keep an eye on to ensure I stay at the top of the game. For that reason I haven’t had to speak to Darren in the lead-up to The Everest. There is no reason to question his training methods, we see them working every week.
He has set up a plan for Brave Smash to have him in The Everest at his fourth run.
He has stuck to the plan and Brave Smash, which has got better with every run, is peaking for The Everest. I think he is potentially the best prepared in the race.
Another thing about Darren is that he can turn a high-pressure environment into just another race, which is is important.
We will both be at Caulfield because our big teams are racing in the group 1 races, and we will probably watch The Everest together. Obviously The Autumn Sun heads my team for the afternoon in the Caulfield Guineas. He won the Golden Rose last start and is already group 1 winner at the mile in the JJ Atkins.
He has settled in to our set-up at Flemington very well. He is all class and a pleasure to train. He has a great temperament, which is matched by his athleticism. I think he can further his stud value by winning the Guineas.
If Unforgotten and D’argento bring their Sydney form to Melbourne in the Caulfield Stakes, I would expect them to be in the finish. Unforgotten is an Australian Oaks winner and what she does on Saturday will determine the rest of the spring. There is still a chance she could go to the Caulfield Cup next week but if she was to win, the Cox Plate would be next.
D’argento will get James McDonald in the saddle and I feel with an ounce of luck, his class will show. Noire and Shillelagh are in the Toorak Handicap. I feel Shillelagh is the forgotten horse from the Epsom, in which she charged home in fourth and is a little bit underrated. Noire is a mare I have wanted to get to group 1 level and she has no weight on her back. Fiesta took the Princess Series in Sydney and deserves a group 1 and the Thousand Guineas is another chance for her.
We always want to win a group 1 but The Everest is the mountain we would love to climb on Saturday.
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