Will The Everest thank heavens for Winx…By Rob Young

Will The Everest thank heavens for Winx…By Rob Young

Mighty mare Winx. Photo courtesy Daryl Duckworth.

It’s very difficult not to think that the powers that be may be facing a bit of a climb to get The Everest to live up to the early hype.

As it stands right now, the horses that are confirmed as aiming at The Everest – and they all have to stay fit and healthy until October 14 – are Chautauqua, She Will Reign, Houtzen, Fell Swoop and English. Five!

The horses considered as “possibles”, not “probables” are Caravaggio, Global Glamour and Le Romain. Three! But Caravaggio has just had a second consecutive flop in Europe, was injured to some extent, and Aidan O’Brien apparently sees a start in The Everest for Caravaggio as “unlikely”, so the “probables” are down to two!

So where does that leave us with about 9 weeks to go?

It looks very likely that there may not be any international runners in the richest turf race in the world, and that certainly wasn’t the aim of the exercise. It’s very difficult to believe that international entries are going to jump out of the forest with such a relatively short time to go to the event, considering the transport and quarantine issues that will have to be faced, let alone the assumption that the horse needs to be some way into a preparation for a major race. If that happens, then that would be a major embarrassment. We gave a party and nobody came.

And let’s be realistic about the probable quality of the field as it stands.

Chautauqua is a great sprinter, but is he a champion? She Will Reign and Houtzen are three year old fillies, fast certainly, but just not proven in the top flight company of open races. Fell Swoop is honest, but would you back him against Chautauqua at WFA over 1200 metres at Randwick? Not with my money! English is a top class mare, but, again, has been beaten by Chautauqua over this track and distance.

Given that situation, where are the other runners going to come from? With Le Romain and Global Glamour as the remaining “possibles”, you would have to think that they will be making up the numbers in what looks like a pretty even field behind the big grey. And the remaining sprinters in Australia just won’t build the quality of the field above what we see now. They will just be making up the numbers, even if the owners are prepared to meet the exacting conditions and costs associated with nominating for the race.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to see The Everest as an outrageous success. But I do worry about the decision to make it a sprint race, and I do worry about the apparent lack of international commitment at this relatively late stage in proceedings.

If things don’t improve, The Everest will simply be a very lucrative but very humdrum Group 1 sprint, with nothing really special about it other than the prizemoney. If that happens, then the whole concept of The Everest has to be brought into question.

And that brings the mighty mare, Winx, right into the frame as the glamour girl of the Spring.

 

Winx has 21 wins in 27 starts, the last 17 in a row. That’s a record way above anything the nominations for The Everest can boast. But Winx isn’t a sprinter anymore, if she ever really was, and we won’t see her in The Everest. The Spring Carnival may well be, again, all about Winx.

And that’s the rub.

Nobody wants to put the mock on the mare, but what happens if Winx gets rolled and The Everest just doesn’t live up to the early hype?

Thankfully, Winx is showing every sign that she will be at least as brilliant as she was last preparation, and, hopefully we will see her unbeaten run continuing through a third Cox Plate, and perhaps into the Emirates on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Let’s hope so. Because things might be looking pretty ordinary if that doesn’t happen!