Everest can bask in Sunlight with right gate
TRAINER Tony McEvoy wants the "shortest way home" for Sunlight when the barriers are drawn for the $14 million The Everest.
"I'd like gate 1,'' McEvoy said when pressed for his preferred starting position.
"Sunlight has drawn horribly her last four runs and is due to get a good barrier.''
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The all-important The Everest barrier draw will be beamed onto the arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from 8pm on Tuesday night.
McEvoy said a "soft" barrier is crucial for Sunlight's winning chances given the sheer quality of opposition in The Everest (1200m), run at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The elite 12-horse Everest field includes 10 individual Group 1 winners and two Group 2 winners, with these sprinters having already collectively earned a staggering $42.19 million prizemoney.
Sunlight, herself a three-time Group 1 winner of $4.6 million, goes into The Everest after defeating Santa Ana Lane in the Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
But Sunlight is at generous odds of $15 in early odds Everest betting behind $4.60 favourite Santa Ana Lane.
The brilliant Victorian duo have returned to Randwick with the Anthony Freedman-trained Santa Ana Lane due to have a solid piece of work on Tuesday morning but McEvoy is content with Sunlight's preparation.
"We just gave her some pacework (Monday morning), she did a bit of 14s (every 200m), she is pretty fit now,'' he said.
Sunlight has had three lead-up runs into The Everest, her form improving with every start this spring.
"She was stiff not to win the Moir and then she won the Gilgai,'' McEvoy.
"The trip back to Sydney was no issue, she has settled in like she never left. She gets very stimulated by galloping and travelling, she loves it.
"She is certainly the best I've trained. This mare is a marvel because of her honesty, resilience, tenacity and soundness.''
Trainer Greg Hickman and jockey Tommy Berry combine with Pierata and both men have similar views about what barrier would best suit the horse.
"I'm hoping for inside seven,'' Hickman said. "He should get the run of the race from that barrier.''
Berry didn't want to be too close to the inside, adding between barriers four and eight would be ideal.
"The only time Pierata got cluttered up in a race was in the TJ Smith Stakes and he didn't really let down on that occasion,'' Berry said.
"But every time he gets to the outside in a race he can produced a powerful finishing sprint.''
Berry said with noted speedsters like Redzel, Nature Strip, Sunlight and Ten Sovereigns in the field, this Everest should be run at a genuine tempo.
"This race has good speed and should be run on a good track so every horse will be their opportunity,'' Berry said.
"There hasn't been one dominant horse the whole way through this spring although Pierata has probably been the most dominant of them.
"But every horse is going into The Everest in very good form so it is going to a great race.''
Tim Clark was confirmed as the rider of the Chris Waller-trained Nature Strip. Waller also has Arcadia Queen and Yes Yes Yes in The Everest.
Clark rode Nature Strip for the first time at Rosehill trackwork on Monday morning and was impressed with the last start Group 1 Moir Stakes winner.
"Nature Strip did a bit of work, it was his main gallop for the week,'' Clark said.
"He's an interesting horse because I guess you just have to get him rolling and in his rhythm. I think he races best when you let him run along without fighting him.''
Clark said he preferred Nature Strip received a middle of the field draw for the world's richest turf race.
"Whether that means he leads or sits outside the leader remains to be seen,'' Clark said.
"I'll have a look at all his runs but I also want to talk with James (McDonald), who has ridden him a lot, Chris (Waller) and the owners. They have a better understanding of Nature Strip than me so I will be guided a bit by what they say.''