Meet the Contenders for The 2022 Everest
After months of negotiating, the field has been finalized for the world’s richest race on turf. Saturday (late Friday night ET) sees the running of The Everest, the A$15 million ($9.7 million) sprint which has quickly become an iconic event in Australian, and world, horse racing.
Borrowing from the initial stagings of the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in 2017, participants are determined by slot holders who purchase the rights to run a horse in the race. They then negotiate with owners of potential runners for the 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) contest. The slot holder format for The Everest has outlived that for the Pegasus World Cup, which changed to an invitation format in 2020.
This year’s edition will be the sixth staging of The Everest. The field is limited to 12 runners.
Ten slots were filled by late September, though injury forced Snapdancer out in early October. This meant slot holder Inglis had to find another runner, and they settled last week on last-start Gilgai S. (G2) winner Private Eye.
For the remaining two slots, James Harron Bloodstock decided a week back to go with unbeaten three-year-old Giga Kick, while Godolphin Racing, who were always planning to use one of their own stable horses, surprised a few this week when settling on Schillaci S. (G2) runner-up Ingratiating.
Meet the Contenders
Nature Strip (Slot holder: Chris Waller Racing)
Pros: The best sprinter in the world. Won this last year, and thrashed the best in Europe in the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot this year. Showed he still had it when winning the Shorts (G2) last month.
Cons: Doesn’t always string wins together. Was unsuccessful in this race twice before his victory last year so can be beaten.
Eduardo (Slot holder: Yulong Investments)
Pros: Grand horse who has been one of the best sprinters in Australia for some time. Has beaten Nature Strip three times and won the Concorde (G3) when resuming Sept. 3. Third in this last year.
Cons: Now a nine-year-old. Tends to get beaten by Nature Strip when the big prizes are on the line. Had his chance when fourth in the Shorts.
Lost and Running (Slot holder: TAB)
Pros: High-quality sprinter who ran nicely for fourth in this race last year. Put in a great finish to take third behind Nature Strip in the Shorts and won nicely in the Premiere (G2).
Cons: Has yet to win at Group 1 level. Can get too far back in his races against the very best.
Masked Crusader (Slot holder: Max Whitby and Neil Werrett)
Pros: Went very close to winning this race last year, so has the ability. Best run for a while when third to Lost and Running in the Premiere (G2) Oct. 1.
Cons: Hasn’t been in form for most of 2022. May need good track conditions to be at his best.
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Mazu (Slot holder: The Star & Arrowfield)
Pros: Improving sprinter who put six wins together last season. Earned his Group 1 stripes in the Doomben 10,000 (G1) in May. Pushed Lost and Running hard in the Premiere Oct. 1.
Cons: Still inexperienced in the highest class. Had his chance when fifth to Nature Strip in the Shorts.
Private Eye (Slot holder: Inglis)
Pros: In great form, having lumped a big weight to win the Gilgai (G2) Oct. 1. Has already won a major spring race at Randwick, taking out the one-mile Epsom H. (G1) in 2021.
Cons: Usually wants more than six furlongs and could find the best horses here too speedy.
Overpass (Slot holder: James Kennedy)
Pros: Very consistent sprinter who is on the improve. Ran a great race for second to Nature Strip in the Shorts.
Cons: Yet to win at Group 1 level. Shorts run was his best by far in the highest class. A little disappointing when sixth in the Premiere Oct. 1.
Ingratiating (Slot holder: Godolphin)
Pros: From one of Australia’s premium stables. Multiple Group 1 placegetter was a fast-finishing second to stablemate Paulele in the Schillaci (G2) Oct. 8.
Cons: Has never won at Group 1 or Group 2 level in eight attempts, and would need a career-best effort by some distance to win or place.
Joyful Fortune (Slot holder: Aquis)
Pros: A good winner in Hong Kong. Showed his fitness with a devastating four-length victory at Flemington Sept. 18.
Cons: This class is a massive step up on anything he has ever encountered before. Form suggests he has a tough task.
Shades of Rose (Slot holder: Bon Ho)
Pros: Speedy mare has won seven of her nine starts. Beat a good field of fillies and mares well in the Sheraco (G2) in September.
Cons: Hasn’t raced in top company before against the males. Form suggests she needs a major improvement.
Jacquinot (Slot holder: Coolmore)
Pros: Showed immense strength at the line to win the Golden Rose (G1). Yes Yes Yes proved in 2019 that a three-year-old can win this race.
Cons: Coming back from seven furlongs at his last start. May be better suited at a longer trip in this class.
Giga Kick (Slot holder: James Harron Bloodstock)
Pros: Unbeaten gelding who has shown super speed in his four starts to date, most recently in the Danehill (G2) in Melbourne. Three-year-olds have proved competitive here in the past.
Cons: Has yet to contest a Group 1 race or take on the best of his age, let alone older horses. Inexperienced trainer Clayton Douglas has never taken on this type of race before.