Ballistic missiles top Whitby’s Everest short list
EVEREST slot-holder Max Whitby has confirmed renewed interest in securing either Pierata or Kementari for the world's richest turf race after their epic showdown in the Missile Stakes at Royal Randwick last Saturday.
In a race that lived up to the hype, Pierata edged out Kementari with the two outstanding four-year-olds staking claims for a start in the $13 million The Everest (1200m) at the same track on October 13.
Whitby, who shares a slot with Neil Werrett, had locked in Menari for The Everest before it was revealed last week the sprinter suffered a career-ending leg injury.
"It was disappointing Menari picked up an injury but we have a number of good sprinters that we are looking at now for the Everest,'' Whitby said.
"After the Missile Stakes, it is fair to say Pierata and Kementari are on the top of our short-list now but there are others like Nature Strip and Happy Clapper that we are looking at too.
"I think we can sit back and wait a little longer before having to make a decision.''
Pierata's trainer Greg Hickman reiterated if an Everest slot was offered to the horse's connections then it would be difficult to bypass that opportunity.
"We want to get that Group 1 and I think 1400m is a great distance for him but you can't ignore that $13 million - it's a big number,'' Hickman told the Big Sports Breakfast Weekend on Sunday.
Hickman said he had briefly considered the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) on August 18 as Pierata's next start only when he was under the impression champion Winx may not resume in that weight-for-age race.
But with Winx set to aim for a national record 26th consecutive win in the race named in her honour later this month, Hickman revealed Pierata is likely to race next in the Group 2 $200,000 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on September 1.
"Pierata would be weighted well in the Tramway so I think we will aim to go that way at this stage,'' Hickman said.
Godolphin trainer James Cummings is also considering whether to set Kementari at The Everest.
"We will sit down as a team and talk it out, Jason Walsh, Vin Cox and myself amongst others and have a good chat about the path Kementari takes,'' Cummings said.
"This is the most valuable asset on four legs in our business at the moment so we have to make sure we are not only doing the right thing by him but also taking the company line, too.''
Cummings wants Kementari to race over 1400m next start with the Winx Stakes or most likely the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield later this month the options.
If Kementari does line up against Winx in the Winx Stakes later this month, it would be a box office bonanza for the Australian Turf Club.
Whitby noted the race programs likely for Pierata and Kementari will include a second-up run over 1400m and then a freshen up if either or both horses are being set for The Everest is similar to the preparation given to Vega Magic last year when he ran second to Redzel in the inaugural Everest.
"There is a blueprint there because we has Vega Magic running for us last year and he ran a super race in The Everest,'' Whitby said.