Classique Legend chasing back-to-back wins in $15 million Everest, Australian racing’s richest thoroughbred race, at Randwick
The wisdom gained from a lifetime in racing is keeping Les Bridge on a tight rein despite expectations of another windfall result with the best racehorse the octogenarian has trained.
Classique Legend will be chasing back-to-back wins in the $15 million Everest, Australian racing’s richest thoroughbred race, at Randwick on Saturday.
And as one of the world’s best sprinters, it’s not a surprise that Classique Legend is considered a strong chance to defend his Everest crown.
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Yet having the wily Bridge in his corner is a scenario that seemed improbable after Classique Legend was shipped to Hong Kong not long after winning in 2020.
Classique Legend is Hong Kong owned and Bridge was resigned to never seeing his stable star again.
But the Asian racing capital didn’t work out for the horse who has banked almost $9 million in career earnings and he returned to Bridge’s Randwick stable in Sydney just in time for another Everest bid.
“In an ideal world I would have liked to have given him the same preparation as last year,” Bridge said.
“But you have to just play the cards you are given.”
Classique Legend, who will be reunited with jockey Kerrin McEvoy, will give away a fitness edge to his 11 Everest rivals, five of whom also contested the race in 2020.
“I’ve been around horses long enough to know what the horse has got ahead of him. I’m not silly,” Bridge said.
“But he is a great horse and I wouldn’t try it with any other horse.”
Classique Legend has been replaced as favourite on the eve of the race with the Chris Waller-trained Nature Strip firming in anticipation the Everest will be run on a rain-affected track.
Making his third appearance in the Everest, Nature Strip is a horse for all conditions but is especially adept in the wet.
His brilliance has carried him to six Group One victories, the latest in soft going over the Everest course in winning the TJ Smith Stakes during the Sydney autumn carnival.
But Bridge said he was inclined to assess Nature Strip’s younger stablemate Home Affairs, a Glen Boss mount, as a bigger threat to Classique Legend.
“He could be a worry with no weight on his back,” Bridge said.
Home Affairs is a promising sprinter who earned an Everest nod with a first-up win last month and will carry 53kg under the weight-for-age conditions of the race.
The colt will be trying to emulate Yes Yes Yes who delivered Everest success for Waller and Boss as a three-year-old in 2019.
“Chris wouldn’t be putting him in the race if he didn’t think he could win it,” Boss said.
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