Saturday, July 13, 2024

Gai’s plan to conquer Everest with awesome foursome

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An all-star two-year-old team has been the cornerstone of the Waterhouse-Bott stable’s outstanding season and could provide as many as four starters in the $20 million The TAB Everest later this year.

Lady Of Camelot, Storm Boy, Straight Charge and Espionage have demonstrated precocious talent during their juvenile campaigns are in the mix for the world’s richest turf race at Royal Randwick in October.

“It’s still early days but we are certainly thinking of The Everest for Lady Of Camelot, Storm Boy, Straight Charge and Espionage,’’ Bott said.

“Lady Of Camelot arrived back in the stables this week, Storm Boy and Straight Charge are already back in work, and Espionage will come back in shortly.’’

There’s still five months to The Everest and the only confirmed starter is Perth two-year-old Bustling for slot-holders Max Whitby, Neil Werrett and Col Madden.

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Usually by this time of year, the top four or five sprinters are securely into the field but not even race favourite I Wish I Win has been selected.

The Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on Saturday could act as an Everest circuit-breaker particularly if Bella Nipotina wins the big Brisbane sprint.

Bella Nipotina is an $80,000 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale graduate and another Group 1 win from this outstanding mare – who has already earned just over $10 million prizemoney – could force slot-holder Inglis to make a move.

It is widely expected I Wish I Win is going to be selected soon. Previous Everest winners Think About It (2023) and Giga Kick (2022) and dual Everest placegetter Private Eye will be popular with slot-holders, while top mares In Secret (Godolphin) and Sunshine In Paris (John Camilleri) are virtually locked in for the race.

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Overpass, the dual winner of The Quokka, will have his Everest supporters, as will Group 1 All Aged Stakes winner Magic Time and Chris Waller’s crack Coolmore colt Switzerland.

The results in feature sprints at Royal Ascot next week could also influence some European connections to consider an Everest campaign.

There is also American billionaire John Stewart, who has a small share in Storm Boy, but is keen to bring one of his sprinters to Sydney for The Everest.

“The Everest for Storm Boy will depend on Coolmore taking the lead,’’ Stewart told News Corp Australia recently.

“They are managing his career and I’m sure they are taking that into account.

“But I’m also thinking about, and interested in, having horses that I have more of a majority control racing in that race in your spring time.’’

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Officially there are still 11 Everest positions to be filled and Bott is not surprised slot-holders are taking their time to lock in a sprinter this year.

“There is a lot of movement in the sprinters ranks this season,’’ Bott said.

“I think slot-holders are happy to wait and see which horse is putting their ‘hands up’ in the spring.’’

Slot-holders will also be conscious of the good record three-year-olds have in The Everest. Yes Yes Yes was the first of that age group to beat the older sprinters in the big race when he ran a Randwick 1200m track record of 1m 7.32s to win in 2019 then Giga Kick kept his unbeaten record when he ran down Private Eye, Mazu and Nature Strip in 2022.

It’s also worth noting Tulloch Lodge’s rising three-year-old quartet of Lady Of Camelot (Newgate), Storm Boy (Coolmore), Straight Charge (Yulong) and Espionage (James Harron) are raced by owners who have Everest slots.

Another of the Waterhouse-Bott stable’s boom two-year-olds, unbeaten filly Clean Energy, is also owned by Yulong but an Everest preparation for her is unlikely.

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“It might all happen too soon for Clean Energy,’’ Bott said. “We might try to keep her in the fillies races and aim her more towards the Flight Stakes in spring.’’

Sovereign Hill, another promising two-year-old owned by Yulong, does not have the reputation or race record of some of his stablemates but can ensure the continuation of the Waterhouse-Bott training partnership’s dominance of juvenile racing in the lines up in the Chandon Handicap (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

In early TAB Fixed Odds betting, Sovereign Hill is the $3.20 favourite to provide Waterhouse and Bott with another Sydney two-year-old success this season.

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At the Canterbury public holiday meeting last Monday, Steel Strike became the stable’s 22nd individual two-year-old winner of 31 races this season.

Although the Waterhouse-Bott stable’s winning ways with their two-year-old team has attracted most headlines, by all the key metrics, this has been some season for the trainers.

In fact, the 2023-24 has been their best since they formed their training partnership eight years ago. The stable’s results include:

■ Waterhouse and Bott have trained the winners of $28.8 million prizemoney and counting, already eclipsing the stable’s previous best of $19.6 million set last season.

■ Tulloch Lodge runners have won six Group 1 races this season which is the most achieved by the training partnership.

■ The trainers have already prepared the winners of 33 Group or Listed races, moving beyond their 2022-23 mark of 32 stakes wins.

■ Waterhouse and Bott have 80.5 Sydney races this season, easily their best result in the metropolitan area to be a clear second in the Sydney premiership rankings behind Chris Waller (129 wins).

■ And with more than six weeks of the season remaining, Waterhouse and Bott have already led in 159.5 winners on all racetracks and will soon break their existing stable benchmark of 165 wins set in 2017/18.

But it’s the Waterhouse-Bott juvenile juggernaut which has rolled on relentlessly all season.

Their two-year-olds have netted major wins in the Golden Slipper (Lady Of Camelot), Magic Millions (Storm Boy), Inglis Millennium (Fully Lit), Golden Gift (Shangri La Express), Kindergarten Stakes (Espionage), Widden Stakes (Lady Of Camelot), Canonbury Stakes (Prost), Silver Slipper (Straight Charge), Skyline Stakes (Storm Boy) and a Breeders Plate trifecta (Espionage, Straight Charge, Prost).

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“Our two-year-olds have been fantastic all season,’’ Bott said.

“The signs were there early in the spring when we saw some step out and do well at the (official barrier) trials and then we had good representation in the Breeders Plate and Gimcrack Stakes.

“I feel that is always an indication a stable has a good bit of depth and talent.’’

Sovereign Hill was one of the Waterhouse-Bott stable’s early season winners, scoring on debut at Warwick Farm, ironically during Everest week last October.

But then the speedy son of Yulong’s champion sire Written Tycoon had a few niggling issues which prevented him from racing again until last month when he resumed with an unplaced run at Newcastle before beating all but the unbeaten Emirate at Rosehill two weeks ago.

“Sovereign Hill was beaten by a good horse last start,’’ Bott said.

“But I thought he was excellent in (wet track) conditions that weren’t ideal for him. I think he can continue to keep showing some improvement for us.’’

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