Everest big guns to take centre stage in Premiere
STRAP yourselves in, because the race to Sydney's $13 million mountain top is about to begin.
The Everest's towering presence will cast a giant shadow over Epsom Day next Saturday when up to six confirmed starters will race in a support event at Royal Randwick.
The Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) will boast Everest favourites Trapeze Artist and Redzel, plus In Her Time, Invincible Star, Shoals and Santa Ana Lane.
The Premiere's mini-Everest field will be a compelling contest in the build-up to the $13 million The Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 13.
Trapeze Artist is the $5 Everest favourite on Ladbrokes fixed odds ahead of defending champ Redzel ($6).
It's a return clash between the two super sprinters over the Everest course and distance after Trapeze Artist emerged victorious when he powered past Redzel to win the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes during The Championships back in autumn.
The Gerald Ryan-trained Trapeze Artist began his Everest preparation in the Theo Marks Stakes earlier this month when he shouldered 61kg to a pleasing third behind Home Of The Brave.
Redzel was brilliant winning the Concorde Stakes in his spring return but then was a race morning scratching from The Shorts after he became cast in his box overnight.
This has forced a change in Redzel's Everest preparation, with trainer Peter Snowden slating in the Premiere Stakes as the sprinter's next start.
"It was a minor setback and he's just missed his planned lead-up race, but I'm confident we can get him to where we need him and he'll be in good order for The Everest,'' Snowden said.
"Redzel will need another race leading into The Everest and the Premiere should get him exactly where we want him.''
Trainer Anthony Freedman is sending both his Everest hopefuls, Santa Ana Lane and Shoals into the Premiere fray, while the Kris Lees-trained In Her Time is trying to repeat her first-up win in this race last year.
Trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott will rely on Invincible Star in the Premiere Stakes. Their other Everest runner, English, will have a barrier trial rather than another start before the world's richest turf race.
There are three Group 1 races on the program including the $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m).
Gai Waterhouse is chasing a record-breaking eighth Epsom win with the in-form Siege Of Quebec her stable's leading contender.
Waterhouse won her first Epsom with Iron Horse in 1997 and has since added wins with Excellerator (2002), Desert War (2004-05), Theseo (2008), Rock Kingdom (2009) and Fat Al (2012).
The Epsom was first run in 1865 and the only other trainer to prepare seven winners of the famous Randwick mile is Waterhouse's late father, Tommy Smith.