Bigger Dollars The Prize For McEvoy’s Surprise Everest Starter

By Ray Hickson

Tony McEvoy sees his surprise TAB Everest runner Dollar For Dollar as a horse in the Redzel mould – a no-nonsense, rugged, on pace warrior – and he’s adamant he will do his connections proud on the biggest stage.

Trainer Tony McEvoy (Pic: Steve Hart).

Those connections now include Aquis after an eleventh hour decision from the slot holder not to press on to the $15m feature with Golden Slipper winner Farnan.

The three-year-old passed a vet examination on Monday morning but Aquis managing director Shane McGrath said, after discussions with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, it was conceded the colt didn’t have the right preparation to be taking on an Everest.

So the Tony and Calvin McEvoy stable and eight-year-old Dollar For Dollar received the unlikely call up.

“What an incredible phone call to get,’’ McEvoy said.

“What an honour to have someone want to run your horse in the biggest race. Obviously they’d done their form and chosen him as the horse they wanted to represent them.

“We are humbled and excited and looking forward to the weekend.”

Dollar For Dollar was Sydney bound anyway to run in the Group 3 $500,000 Sydney Stakes (1200m) on Saturday, now he’s racing for 30 times that amount, followed by the $1m Yes Yes Yes Stakes (1300m) on October 31 and the $1m The Hunter (1300m) at Newcastle on November 14.

The gelding is a multiple Group 1 placegetter and while he’s a $34 chance with TAB he has a brave second to Behemoth in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke (1400m) and a nose defeat to Zoutori in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) against his name this spring.

“He’s continuing to put together personal best performances,’’ McEvoy said.

“He beat home Tofane and Santa Ana Lane last start in the Gilgai, that’s very good form.

“He’s a similar style of horse to Redzel, he rolls forward and makes his own luck. It worked twice for Redzel, we’d be happy if it worked just once for our boy.

“We were coming for the Sydney Stakes anyway, now we are racing for a much bigger prize. It’s just incredible.”

Of course the McEvoy stable campaigned their gun mare Sunlight in Sydney last spring, she raced below par in the TAB Everest but was runner-up in the Golden Eagle.

“We were so excited and planned it and got there and she ran her only bad race at that stage,’’ he said.

“We were just dumbfounded after the race. Here we are this year, no plans at all and he’s in the race.”

McGrath is philosophical about replacing Farnan, saying it’s all part of the intrigue of the TAB Everest but for the best as far as the horse is concerned.

The colt was in a race against time to be fit for the Everest following a shock failure in the Run To Tue Rose last month and a bruised heel that forced him out of the Roman Consul last weekend.

Aquis isn’t the first slot holder to have to make a last minute change and they aren’t going to be the last.

“The reality is you’re going into the hardest sprint race in Australia, the biggest race of his life, and you need a faultless preparation to be going in there,’’ he said of Farnan.

“We have to think what’s best for the horse, what gives him his best opportunity.”

He said Dollar For Dollar brings some compelling form into the TAB Everest and his front-running racing style will ensure everyone gets a run for their money.

Tim Clark, who was to ride Farnan, will partner Dollar For Dollar in the Aquis silks.

“He is a horse we’ve been keeping an eye on,’’ McGrath said.

“Tony was bringing him up to Sydney and he’s a good tough horse in the best form of his life. We’ll strap in and try to enjoy it now the curve ball is out of the way.

“I think he will be highly competitive. There’s a couple of queries around a few runners, that’s the beauty of the Everest.”