The barrier drawn for this Saturday’s $15 Million Everest
Nature Strip (Nicconi) replaced Classique Legend (Not A Single Doubt) as favourite for Saturday’s $15 million Everest (1200m) after last night’s live barrier draw took place on the Sky Deck of Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower. The Chris Waller-trained gelding, who lost his position at the head of the betting after his disappointing fourth in the Premiere Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m) earlier in the month, dislodged Classique Legend at the top of the market after the pair drew barriers five and six respectively, with Nature Strip made a $4.20 chance.
Classique Legend is now quoted at $4.40. Gytrash (Lope De Vega) drew gate seven after his trainer Gordon Richards was forced to press the red button to generate the barrier draw three times after the system malfunctioned. The television coverage, however, showed Gytrash drawing barriers seven and one before chief steward Marc Van Gestel ordered the program to be reset.
Once given the go-ahead to once again hit the button on the Sky Deck, the Inglis representative again came up with seven. The second barrier to be drawn was that of Melbourne-trained sprinter Tofane (Ocean Park) who came away with barrier 11. Richards’ early assessment of Concorde Stakes (Gr 3, 1000m) winner Gytrash’s barrier draw for The Everest was positive.
The son of Lope De Vega (Shamardal), who has not raced since his September 5 victory over Nature Strip, was eased to $6.50. “He’s (saddle cloth) number seven in the draw and he’s drawn barrier seven, so I am happy with that,” Richards told Sky Racing last night. “We felt we didn’t have to go any further; we were happy going six weeks between runs and I can tell you the horse has done really well with that break.” Premiere Stakes winner Libertini (I Am Invincible), who defeated Classique Legend and Nature Strip last start, came up with the outside barrier of 12. She eased in betting from $6 to $8 after the draw. “We’re slightly deflated after that barrier draw. We did look like we were going to get a nice inside draw at one stage,” said James Harron, whose Everest syndicate won the battle for Libertini after her first-up victory. “But look, she’s quite a dynamic (mare), she can do quite a lot. She can come back off the pace – she showed that last week… we will dust ourselves off and get ready for Saturday. “She’s certainly the in-form horse of the race. She’s beaten some of the favourites already. By all reports, she’s come on beautifully from that run and her coat’s come through which they were looking for.”