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By Jack Petley | Saturday, October 17, 2020

Phew … the $15 million The Everest Day has arrived … and that after weeks upon weeks of publicity for the richest sprint in the world with many horses considered, injured or out of form and daily coverage in the print and electronic media, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, for what I consider the best promotion of a race in many year. In fact, such has been the power of the race that stayers have been given scant attention as they build to today's Caulfield Cup and the other majors of the Melbourne carnival thanks to the brilliance of Pete V'Landys and his team of professionals. They deserve a hearty pat on the back and the race deserves Gr1 status.

Since the first day that slots were made available for runners there has been so much interest. Many sprinters have dropped by the wayside including Kiwis The Bostonian and Catalyst, but today twelve go to the post after much hard-nosed dealings behind the scene. Now the question is … who wins?

Nature Strip has been the horse of the moment since day 1 but he has had his problems, beaten first up, a barrier trial scare, defeat again when unwell and every day his progress has been followed by the press. But I see that Chris Waller is now pleased with him, his coat is much brighter says Chris and James McDonald is pleased. So I'm sticking with him, but, boy, will he get some tough opposition especially from Classique Legend, trained by veteran Les Bridge, and Gytrash from SA and the mount of in form Kiwi Jason Collett. Both have had ideal preps, both are in winning form and both have turned heads in their trackwork.

Gytrash has been going about his daily tasks under the watchful eye of Collett and his connections. He hasn't put a foot wrong I'm told and his fast work has been outstanding. So, they are my top 3 Nature Strip, Gytrash, Classique Legend.

Libertini must be considered after her dashing win last time but one for longer odds for me and also Bivouac in the blue jacket with the ‘Bossman’ up.

And when talking about Waller and McDonald, they could have a massive day. They also combine with Joviality ($4.20) in race 4, Brimham Rocks ($4.0) in race nine and Dancing Gidget ($5.20) in race 10 and McDonald also is on in form runner Front Page in the Kosciiuszko, although Jason Collett holds the key there on hot favourite, the unbeaten It's Me.

Waller could also have a big day at Caulfeld with three in the Caulfield Cup … Verry Elleegant, Finche and the Oaks winner of last season, lightweight Toffee Tongue, the mount of NZ born Mick Dee. Waller in his press release said this of Verry Elleegant, my top tip for the Cup: "Mark Zahra gets on well with her and has done a lot of work on her since the Turnbull win. She has matured and she is a lovely mare and is coping better than ever with racing." Of Finche he said: "Hasn't had a lot of luck in his races. He is a very athletic and mature horse and clean winded. Fortunate to have Damian Lane up. And also on Michael Dee, a top lightweight on Toffee Tongue. "She has a light weight, a good thing for a four-year-old mare. Rain about won't affect the two mares, he says, but Finche may struggle a bit.

What of the dangers to the Waller trio? The first Anthony Van Dyke, the mount of Hugh Bowman. Bowman has yet to win a Caulfield Cup but he went south instead of staying in Sydney with high hopes of winning the Cup and he has chosen what I think is one of the best chances in the race with Anthony Van Dyke, a big tough stayer with top trainer Aidan O'Brien and the 2019 Epsom Derby winner. Last time out he beat the great stayer Stradivarius in the Prix Foy. The international challenge is formidable including Dashing Willoughby (Michael Walker) and Buckhurst. My three … Verry Elleegant, Anthony Van Dyke, Toffee Tongue and I won’t be leaving Kiwi The Chosen One out of my trifectas. Better than his latest form and in with a good weight.
It's also a big day in Kiwi-land, where the Livamol at Hastings with Te Akau holding the power there, with Avantage and Melody Belle with big danger being Two Illicit.

And at Ellerslie it is Great Northern day, a race meeting I never missed when at home. Magic Wonder the one to beat in the Chase. a tough test of times times over the famous Ellerslie Hill and 6400 metres, with dangers Grinner and Napoleon while in the Hurdle (4190 metres) Aigne gets the nod over The Cossack and Magnanimous Man.

So it is going to be one heck of a day, in fact one heck of a weekend with the footie tomorrow at Eden Park, the fridge is full of Asahi and if a visitor is a non-racing or Rugby fan, go home.

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