March 25, 2023

Redzel scales The Everest again

Redzel has won both runnings of The Everest, the world's richest turf race (c) Steve Hart/Racing NSW Twitter

In two runnings of the world’s richest turf race, there’s been only one winner, after defending champion Redzel repelled all challengers in Saturday’s A$13 million The Everest at Randwick.

But the build-up to his repeat was not easy. Trainers Peter and Paul Snowden had a task on their hands to get Australia’s champion sprinter ready in recent weeks. Redzel got cast in his stall on the eve of his intended final prep September 15, and he had to be scratched with muscle soreness. Plan B saw him pitched instead into the September 29 Premiere (G2), where he overraced early and tired to fifth.

As a result of that hiccup, and with a fierce pace scenario projected, Redzel was dispatched at generous 15-2 odds in his title defense. But getting a “heavy” course, conditions that undermined his most serious opponents, gave him the golden opportunity to rebound.

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy plotted out the sensible tactic from his rail draw, making the most of his speed to go forward. The expected pace frenzy did not materialize. Aidan O’Brien’s U S Navy Flag broke tardily and could never work his way into a favorable position, while the blinkered Vega Magic was already treading water early.

Le Romain attended Redzel without having the gears to get the front runner out of cruise control. Turning for home, Redzel readily pulled away from his hardy rival who’s better over further. Then the stalking Trapeze Artist tried valiantly to lift, and pursued Redzel the length of the stretch, but could not quicken as well in the going.

Before an enthusiastic crowd of 40,578, Redzel held sway by 1 1/4 lengths to take home the A$6 million winner’s check. The Triple Crown Syndicate colorbearer thereby pushed his career earnings to A$15,372,000, becoming Australia’s second richest Thoroughbred of all time, behind only A$19.8 million-earner Winx.

Trapeze Artist rounded the exacta for leading Australian sire Snitzel. Unlike the gelded Redzel, Trapeze Artist is still a colt, and the hot stallion prospect can pad his resume back on better ground.

The dramatic late run came from Osborne Bulls. The last horse into The Everest, called up as a replacement for Godolphin comrade Home of the Brave, Osborne Bulls was also last in the running until fanning out across the course in the straight. He trod a solitary path down the stands’ side rail, gained ground hand over fist, and passed most of the field to snatch third.

Le Romain stayed on for fourth, followed by Graff (the only Southern Hemisphere three-year-old colt in the line-up), Santa Ana Lane, In Her Time, Brave Smash, U S Navy Flag, Viddora, 4-1 favorite Shoals, and Vega Magic, last year’s Everest runner-up.

Redzel’s final time of 1:12.03 for 1200 meters (about six furlongs) was slower than the 1:10.82 posted by Pierata in the Sydney S., the Everest “consolation” one race prior. Relegated too deep on the also-eligible list for this Everest, Pierata staked a claim for 2019. But Redzel should still be around for a three-peat.

Quotes from Racing New South Wales

Winning rider Kerrin McEvoy: “It was similar to last year. Last year we had a bunny, this year there were a few scenarios going through Peter and Paul’s heads and mine as to how it might unfold.

“I thought Ryan Moore’s horse (U S Navy Flag) might be a bit of a pest early, maybe (David) Hayes’ horse (Vega Magic) with the blinkers on if he got a bit keen.

“From the one gate, that was Plan A, to control it from the front. That’s what this horse is able to do. He loved the ground and is such a little warrior. He is a joy to be a part of.

“He is a little gem, he is my little gem.”

Trainer Gerald Ryan on runner-up Trapeze Artist: “Just inside the furlong I did, I thought he’d get there. Redzel is just a superior wet tracker.”

Tye Angland, who rode Trapeze Artist: “We’ve got to take that as a win, he went so well. It’s just hard to run Redzel down on a wet track where we don’t perform to our best. He gave his all, tried his heart out. Confident we would have been closer in the finish if it was a firm track.”

James Cummings, trainer of third-placer Osborne Bulls: “Extremely, extremely thrilling. I’ve never run a better third in my life.’

Jockey Tommy Berry on Osborne Bulls: “I feel like we’ve won it. Massive training effort from the team. We only knew he was getting in this week, to get him primed for this after coming back from 1400 meters, he was fit, ready to go.

On the daring ride: “We had a good walk of the track before – me, James and team – and we pulled it off. It was good.”

Jockey Ryan Moore on U S Navy Flag (ninth): “He didn’t enjoy the ground.”