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Cult Classique dares to become latest Everest legend

They often say that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. That’s certainly the case for the connections of ageless sprinter Santa Ana Lane as he strives to win The TAB Everest at Royal Randwick next Saturday.Santa Ana Lane becomes the only horse to have competed in three runnings of The Everest…

They often say that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

That’s certainly the case for the connections of ageless sprinter Santa Ana Lane as he strives to win The TAB Everest at Royal Randwick next Saturday.

Santa Ana Lane becomes the only horse to have competed in three runnings of The Everest and will be the sentimental favourite come post time.

Trained by Anthony and Sam Freedman, Santa Ana Lane has been without luck in his previous excursions to the race, finishing sixth to Redzel in 2018 and finishing hard to beat all but Yes Yes Yes in last year’s race.

That level of experience, a penchant for the Randwick 1200m course and bloodlines close to home led Coolmore Stud to choose Santa Ana Lane in its slot for the world’s richest race on turf.

“Coolmore has a longstanding relationship with the Freedman family and we are delighted to partner with Anthony and Sam and Santa Ana Lane in this year’s Everest,’’ Coolmore boss Tom Magnier said.

“He is one of the best sprinters we have seen in the past decade.’’

Star sprinters Trekking and Classique Legend are also returning after contesting last year’s big race.

Trekking is owned by the worldwide racing and breeding giant Godolphin and was selected by slot-holders Max Whitby and Neil Werrett.

Already a multiple Group 1 winner, Trekking was one of the eye-catching runs last year when he finished strongly for third to Yes Yes Yes.

“It’s not many times in your racing life that you can be partnering with a leading group, Godolphin. We are very proud to partner with their champion Trekking,’’ Whitby said.

Classique Legend ran well last year to finish a desperately unlucky sixth but has come back to racing this season even better and stronger.

Owned by slotholder Bon Ho, Classique Legend went straight to the top of Everest betting when he returned this spring to win The Shorts in emphatic fashion and then lost few admirers when second to Libertini in the Premiere Stakes.

Classique Legend is trained by Les Bridge, who has been in the game for more than half a century, preparing the winners of a Melbourne Cup and a Golden Slipper among a host of feature victories.

But Classique Legend holds a special place in the pantheon of Bridge’s star gallopers.

“He’s the best horse I’ve ever trained,” Bridges said after Classique Legend’s stunning Shorts win. “Some have four cylinder motors, he’s got a V8.’’

The three experienced Everest campaigners take on a hot field of first-time contenders such as Horse of the Year Nature Strip, Adelaide’s dynamic duo of Gytrash and Behemoth, Godolphin’s quality performer Bivouac, the much-improved Eduardo, Group 1 winner Tofane, Golden Slipper winner Farnan and the brilliant Libertini.

Behemoth cost $6000 as a yearling and is now a dual Group 1 winner.

Managing part-owner Sam Lyons said: “There’s a real sense of timing about him. I don’t think there’s going to be a horse in better form going into the race.’’

Eduardo has been one of the big improvers this spring and trainer Joe Pride is confident he has a horse who can win The Everest.

The sprinter was picked by miRunners, a syndication company that had been monitoring him.

“The panel had an eye on him for a while and the improvement Joe has been able to bring to this horse has us a little bit excited,’’ miRunners CEO Steve Brown said.

And then there is Libertini, owned by John Singleton and Gerry Harvey. She almost broke the track record in winning the Premiere Stakes at Randwick, beating home Classique Legend.

James Harron, of syndication firm James Harron Bloodstock, had waited patiently for the right horse and won a bidding war to secure Libertini in his slot.

Harron is the man who had winner Redzel in his slot in the inaugural Everest.

“We were waiting to see something like her really jump out of the ground,’’ Harron said.

“She couldn’t have been more impressive and if she can repeat that performance in the Everest, she will be very hard to beat.’’

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

“What a race! The barrier draw will ultimately determine selections but at this stage I am leaning to Classique Legend. His two runs this spring have been outstanding — he charged home to win The Shorts then had to cover extra ground and was brave in defeat in The Shorts. He’s going to be in the finish for sure.

“I’m wary of Nature Strip. How often during his career has he rebounded from an indifferent effort and won a major sprint? Gytrash’s a genuine star and has had a faultless preparation. There was no fluke about Libertini’s stunning comeback effort in The Shorts.

“I’ve left out Bivouac, Eduardo, Santa Ana Lane, Trekking, Farnan etc ….it’s that sort of race.’’

— Ray Thomas Racing Editor Sunday Telegraph

“Provided the track remains firm I’ve got to stick with Libertini.

“She was dynamic when resuming and that came off the back of some ultra-impressive trial performances.

“Anthony Cummings has her in the groove this preparation and Libertini has proven herself a galloper of quality previously however a few issues stalled her career, but this time around she looks to have it all in tune.

“Classique Legend has perfectly primed for the race and he’s the main danger while I’m also respecting Gytrash and Behemoth, who is going to be powering to the line late.

— Stephen Brassel Editor Racenet.com.au

WHAT THE BOOKIE SAYS

“I like Classique Legend. His win in The Shorts was brilliant after being blocked for a run and then he followed it up with a huge second to Libertini after being wide for most of the race. Les Bridge looks like he has him spot on so he will be carrying my money.

“Gytrash has to be the danger. He is a genuine top class sprinter and already has a Lightning to his name.

“I’ll definitely be looking at throwing in Behemoth into quinellas and trifectas.”

— TAB’s Andrew Georgiou

BIGGEST POTENTIAL COLLECT

$340,000 On Eduardo $10,000 @ $34 placed on August 14

$111,700 on Behemoth $4,500 @ $26 placed on September 21

OTHER BETS OF NOTE

$2000 e/w @ $15/$4.50 on Trekking

$2000 @ $6 on Gytrash (placed on Sep 6)

$1500 @ $5 on Gytrash

$1100 & $4445 e/w @ $6/$2.25 on Gytrash (placed on Sep 12)

$1000 @ $15 on Behemoth

$1000 @ $15 on Nature Strip (taken on March 18)

$100 @ $11 on Farnan

$1000 @ $6 multiple times on Classique Legend

$1000 @ $5 multiple times on Classique Legend

$500 e/w @ $26/$7.25 on Gytrash (placed on Feb 23)

$500 @ $15 on Gytrash (placed on Aug 14)

$500 @ $11 on Gytrash (placed on Sep 4)

MARKET MOVERS

$11 out to $34 and then into as low as $6 (currently $7) for Libertini (big firm came after she won last week)

$26-$13 for Behemoth (was inserted in the market as a $26 chance)

$15 into as low as $2.60 fav for Nature Strip (currently $6)

$11-$6 for Gytrash after winning the Concorde Stakes (currently $5). Was as much as $26 back in February!

$34-$15 for Tofane

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