We’re a month out from The Everest, the biggest sprint race in the country, and what has become one of the three biggest races on the Australian calendar. The field is shaping up, with half of the 12 slot-holders confirmed, so let’s take a look at how the main contenders are all faring.
GIGA KICK – slot confirmed
The 2022 Everest winner, while being far from unbeatable, hasn’t done anything this year to suggest he isn’t one of the key horses to beat in the 2023 edition. His second in the TJ Smith and wins in the All Aged and Doomben 10,000 confirm that.
He was beaten first-up in the McEwen Stakes, in a Moonee Valley track record performance by Imperatriz, but he was also slowly away and given a poor ride by Craig Williams. There is no need to doubt him.
I WISH I WIN – slot confirmed
The Everest is the biggest race at the Randwick 1200m, but the TJ Smith is next. I Wish I Win won the latter last season, defeating Giga Kick, in a truly remarkable last-to-first performance. With a Golden Eagle also to his name, he is a star beyond doubt.
Like Giga Kick, he was also beaten first-up, in the Memsie Stakes behind Mr Brightside – there is no hotter horse in the country right now, so there was no shame in that, and it’s impossible to think that he won’t be something to beat in the big one a month from now.
THINK ABOUT IT – slot confirmed
Similar to Giga Kick and I Wish I Win, but even later, Think About It burst into Everest contention last season with back-to-back Group 1 victories in the Kingsford-Smith Cup and Stradbroke Handicap. He has won nine races from 10 starts, and never met the other two stars. His ceiling has not yet been established.
Think About It is yet to resume this spring, but has been seen at the trials. If he has progressed again, and there’s no reason to think he won’t as he goes from four to five, then he could be the one to beat.
PRIVATE EYE – slot confirmed
Private Eye won the strongest edition of The Shorts we’ve ever seen last Saturday, and in doing so booked himself a slot in the Everest. The Joe Pride galloper finished second last year, so we know he is more than up to it, and on his day gives the impression there is no more powerful sprinter in the country.
He should be at the peak of his powers as a six-year-old now, and has such versatility that he is all but assured of running a good race as long as the track isn’t too wet.
SUNSHINE IN PARIS – slot confirmed
This four-year-old mare is the fresh horse on the scene, when it comes to Everest calculations. She has only had six career starts, but the fifth of them was a Group 1 win in the Surround Stakes back in February, defeating Ruthless Dame and In Secret – both of those fillies went on to win Group 1 races against the older horses.
To prove her Surround win was no fluke, Sunshine In Paris won the Sheraco Stakes first-up with 58kg’s, confirming that she is still an untapped talent. She deserves her place in the field, no doubt about that.
MAZU – slot confirmed
Mazu is starting to get a reputation as “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”, and it’s hard to see how he can beat all of Australia’s best sprinters in one race. He hasn’t won since his three-year-old days, when he peeled off five wins in a row through the autumn of 2022, but since then has placed in an Everest, Winners Stakes, TJ Smith and Doomben 10,000.
He resumed with a fairly plain performance in The Shorts, and it’s difficult to see him being a true contender in the big one.
Buenos Noches has been an Everest watch ever since Giga Kick won the race last year, having just nosed out this horse in the Danehill Stakes at Flemington. He subsequently confirmed his talent with a placing in the Coolmore and being beaten just over two lengths in races like the Lightning and Newmarket.
He put the writing on the wall with a brilliant first-up win in the Show County with a big weight, and was arguably the run of the race in The Shorts behind Private Eye on Saturday. After being cluttered away on the rail and having to work into the clear, he sailed right by In Secret once in the clear. He will surely get a slot, and give the race an almighty shake once there.
In Secret was a star three-year-old filly, winning the Coolmore Stud Stakes and Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, as well as being just nosed out of races like the Golden Rose and Surround Stakes.
She has returned in very good order, with a second placing in the Concorde and running a close fourth in The Shorts. Those races were a bit short for her, over 1000m and 1100m respectively, and she was always going to need 1200m to show her best – the Everest is a tough six furlongs, which is right up her alley given her love of the Flemington straight. While not yet announced, she is surely Godolphin’s #1 seed for their slot.
Overpass has quietly become one of the toughest and most honest sprinters in the country, since a gelding operation after the spring of 2022. Since then, he’s won The Quokka, beating Amelia’s Jewel if you don’t mind, run second to Giga Kick in the Doomben 10,000, and was excellent on Saturday when just getting nailed by Private Eye late to run second in The Shorts.
We know he will lead if he gets in the race, as Redzel did twice to win The Everest, and will certainly make them all work to get past him. One thing is guaranteed if he gets in – he will beat home more than beat him.
Could Remarque be an Everest contender? His first-up win in the Concorde, beating the likes of In Secret and Bella Nipotina, suggested it could be a possibility, but there must be doubts after his run in The Shorts. He ran more than respectably to finish fifth, beaten just under a length and a half, but he had a perfect run in transit – despite that, he couldn’t reel in Overpass, who was in front of him, and nor could be prevent Private Eye, Buenos Noches and In Secret from running past. Add to that, 1100m is more in his favour than theirs, and they will all be stronger than him at 1200m.
LOST AND RUNNING
Lost and Running was many people’s pick in last year’s Everest, until he was scratched at the 11th hour and unable to take his place in the field. His might be a career destined to be tarnished by bad luck and wet tracks, unable to show his full potential over a preparation.
He resumed in The Shorts off the back of some excellent trials, but was never closer than four wide the trip, and in a race that hot he was always going to tire late. That he did, and now a question mark remains as to whether he will still aim for a spot in the field.
Golden Slipper winner Shinzo is the wildcard of this year’s Everest. He is yet to be seen at the races since that Slipper win, but has shown that he’ll be something to be reckoned with in two trials.
Only one three-year-old has won the Everest, Yes Yes Yes, and he was also handled by Chris Waller, so the master trainer knows what type of talent and constitution is required in a younger horse. And then there’s the Slipper curse that he’ll have to break, let alone simply measuring up to older horses for the first time. He’s a big watch.