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By Damian Browne | Friday, October 9, 2020

I see only five runners are up for the challenge of racing against the boom horse Russian Camelot on Saturday.

The Danny O’Brien trained runner has won three out of his last four starts, two of those coming in Group 1 company in the South Australian Derby and the Underwood.

I know really good horses can scare off their rivals … as the likes of Black Caviar and Winx did … but I don’t really subscribe to the idea that is what is happening here.
I am not sure exactly what the reason is for having the small field, but I wouldn’t have thought Russian Camelot was at the stage yet where he would have other trainers running and dodging him.

As it stands, the seventh and eighth placed prize-money will now go begging but, while it might sound easy just to stick a horse in and pick up the $20 000, it does come as a double edged sword as struggling back in the field can take away a horse’s confidence.

For me, and this is a point I have touched on before, I’d prefer to see a small field of quality than have an extra four or five runners in there just to make up numbers.

You don’t want horses racing at a level when they shouldn’t be there.

They just get in the way.

The Queensland star, Alligator Blood, is favourite for the Silver Eagle at Randwick on Saturday and he will have the whole of Queensland behind him. He is probably Queens;and’s main chance of winning a big feature during the Spring Carnival.

In reports leading up to the race trainer David Vandyke has been pretty cautious in his comments about Alligator Blood this time in and how he has come back.

I think that approach is just in David’s nature. He is certainly not like a Gai Waterhouse who often just says her horses are going to win everything.

I think what can sometimes be interpreted as Vandyke being defensive in his comments is really just the fact that he has a definite preference for letting the horse do the talking out on the track.

He never gets ahead of himself … with obvious good reason. The higher you bump yourself up, the further you have to fall if what you have been aiming at doesn’t work out.

So, I wouldn’t read a huge amount into his comments being somewhat reserved.

Let’s see what Alligator Blood has got to say on Saturday.

It is good to see that Ryan Maloney, who rides Alligator Blood, has also picked up a Group 1 ride in the Champion Stakes on Cherry Tortoni for Patrick Payne.

Maloney is a talented rider. When you get into that top echelon of jockeys, it really does come down to opportunities.

Maloney possibly didn’t get those opportunities early in his career, but he is clearly making the most of it now with the opportunities that are coming his way.

He is from Melbourne, so he will have contacts down there and that helps … but Queenslanders will claim him on Saturday.

Just as Queenslanders cheer loudly for their horses, they also cheer for the jockeys and Maloney will have a lot of support, not just on Alligator Blood, but on Cheery Tortoni as well when he goes out in search of that Group 1 scalp.

Who knows … he might be chasing a big race to race double if he gets the right result on Alligator Blood which is one race before the Group 1 contest.

The Everest landscape has changed again … but my pick for the race has not.

Nothing I saw of the contenders on Saturday made me change my mind.

Libertini’s run in the Premiere Stakes was very good, but I think if you look at the replay, Classique Legend’s run was still better and that’s who I am sticking with.

As was shown again on Saturday, when he was defeated the second time in a row, the long-time Everest favourite Nature Strip is beatable and has now drifted markedly in the betting.

I think the betting balancing out a bit is a good thing.

I don’t think you want to see a dominant favourite in such a high stakes race. You want to see four or five winning chances which looks like it going to happen now … and I think that is great for the race.

I’m not really one to go off too early, but I think I might have seen the next Golden Slipper winner on the weekend.

I’m talking about the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace trained winner Enthaar, who James McDonald rode on Saturday.

Gee, she was impressive. I really liked what I saw.

McDonald also doesn’t usually go overboard with his report back, but he gave her a huge wrap. He was really excited about her.

Judging on that performance and McDonald’s opinion of her she could well be something special and right now, all things being equal, you would think it would take a good one to beat her in the Slipper.

At the time of writing Rosie Myers is still in an induced coma following a fall at the trials in New Zealand.

Rosie is a lovely lady from a well-known racing family, all of whom are in my thoughts at this time.

I wish Rosie a complete and speedy recovery.

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Damian Browne
Damian Browne
Ryan Maloney
Ryan Maloney
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