The maestro Les Bridge saysClassique Legend’s world-class The Everest triumph was born out of the disappointment of defeat.
Bridge said Classique Legend’s loss in the Premiere Stakes this month, when the grey sprinter was “ridden out of his comfort zone”, provided a telling lesson for the trainer and his jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
“Him (McEvoy) and I stuffed it up,’’ Bridge said on the Big Sports Breakfast Weekend radio show on Sunday.
Everyone kept saying sooner or later the real Nature Strip was going to turn up so we had a talk about it and we didn’t want to give him too big a start.
“We came up with the brilliant idea of staying about three or four lengths behind Nature Strip. The safest way to get a horse ‘beat’ is to ride it out of its comfort zone. We learned our lesson. That mistake won us The Everest.’’
Bridge and McEvoy both determined Classique Legend’s best chance of winning the world’s richest turf race at Royal Randwick last Saturday was to be ridden quietly early.
But neither would have expected Eduardo to lead at such a sizzling speed early, running 33.26sec for the first 600m. The tempo was so frenetic, there were more than 15 lengths between first and last.
It made for a compelling race but Bridge said he was never worried, even when Classique Legend was at least 10 lengths from the lead on the turn.
“He’s a special horse,’’ Bridge said. “I just had this feeling he would win. I can’t really explain it but that’s what makes him a champion.’’
Classique Legend finished powerfully into a fierce headwind, recording 33.3sec for his final 600m as he raced away to win The Everest by more than two lengths.
Racing NSW’s Punter Intelligence analysis of The Everest showed Eduardo reaching a top speed of 71.2km/h and recording an early 200m sectional of 10.05sec — easily the quickest in the race.
Classique Legend’s top speed was 68.5km/h, and his fastest 200m sectional was 10.65sec, but he dominated his rivals was his ability to sustain his sprint, as evidenced by his final 600m, which was clearly the best of the race.
WALLER SWEATING ON ELLEEGANT CUP PENALTY
Veery Elleegant provided trainer Chris Waller with his first Caulfield Cup — but can she complete the coveted double by taking out the Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November?
“It‘s (Caulfield Cup) the best form, I think, for any Melbourne Cup. With her weight (55kg in the Melbourne Cup) obviously it’s going to be difficult and she’s got to settle and do things right,’’ Waller said.
The Hall of Fame trainer will be sweating on Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter’s announcement on Monday on whether Verry Elleegant is given a Melbourne Cup penalty for her Caulfield Cup win.
“It’s going to be an interesting thought process with the team and myself if Verry Elleegant does deserve a penalty,’’ Carpenter said.
“And if she does what quantum that will be. At 3200m, every half kilo is worth a length. The margin yesterday was a short neck.’’
The only mare to carry more than 55kg and win a Melbourne Cup in the race’s long history was the great Makybe Diva who had 55.5kg winning in 2004 only to break that record when shouldering 58kg to complete her famous Cup hat-trick in 2005.
GOLDEN EAGLE: IT’S STIL IN PLAY
Trainer Brett Cavanough hasn’t ruled out setting unbeaten bush sensation It’s Me for the $7.5 million Golden Eagle after her stunning win in The Kosciuszko.
Cavanough said he will monitor how It’s Me comes through her Randwick win and then talk with connections before deciding if the mare is given her chance in the rich Rosehill race on October 31.
It’s Me scored her fourth win with a brilliant late surge to run down Redouble and win The Kosciuszko and vaulted into $15 for the Golden Eagle.
Cavanough will be mindful that It’s Me had to pass a veterinary examination to run in The Kosciuszko and that the mare is in her first race preparation — but this is the only time the mare will be eligible for the Golden Eagle, a race restricted to four-year-olds.
The Scone-based trainer said The Kosciuszko was proving a boon for country racing industry participants.
“I’d like to know the money this concept brings to town,’’ Cavanough said commenting on the large number of country-based racing fans in Sydney for The Everest meeting.
“The money they spend in the metropolitan area, every horse is from a (different) area and we all support the local, that’s an Aussie thing to stick with the locals, and the (betting) turnover it brings and the money it generates is unbelievable.’’
Hong Kong-based owner Bon Ho wants Classique Legend to do his future racing overseas and The Everest winner will enter quarantine on Monday.
There has been some social media criticism of Ho but the owner said it had been a long-range plan to contest The Everest and then get Classique Legend ready for the Group 1 International Sprint at Sha Tin in December, a fact confirmed by Bridge.
“He was always going overseas,’’ Bridge said.
When asked if he was disappointed to lose Classique Legend, the response was vintage Bridge: “They would lock me up if I was happy!”
Ho wants to showcase Classique Legend to the world next year in major sprints at Dubai, Royal Ascot and Tokyo before a possible return to Sydney to defend his The Everest title next year. TAB Fixed Odds has Classique Legend as 2021 Everest favourite at $6.
bridge on track for hall
I received a text from a Randwick trainer on Saturday which said: “Surely that gets Les into the Hall of Fame!”
Bridge, 82, deserves consideration after big race wins in the Melbourne Cup, Golden Slipper, Doncaster Handicap, Caulfield Guineas and a host of other majors before securing The Everest with Classique Legend.
“If you asked any trainer what race they would like to win at the end of their careers they would probably say the Melbourne Cup,’’ Bridge said.
“But the way Peter V’landys (Racing NSW chief executive) has organised this race (The Everest), it is fast approaching it.’’
The form out of the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes when English star Addeybb beat Verry Elleegant during The Championships at Randwick in April has certainly been confirmed.
Verry Elleegant was magnificent holding off Irish stayer Anthony Van Dyck to win the Caulfield Cup, her third Group 1 win this spring. Then overnight, Addeybb won the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot in England.
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