Pathway To The TAB Everest – The Shorts

By Ray Hickson

The Shorts has been around since the 1860s, it has largely been run at Randwick over 1100m and is now a vital stepping stone towards the TAB Everest.

This year’s field will feature one confirmed Everest runner, Classique Legend, and one expected runner, Bivouac, and several horses out to impress the remaining slot holders and put themselves in the mix for next month’s $15m grand final.

Redzel set the race record in winning in 2017 and it was after that win that slot holder James Harron made his move and secured the gelding to run in the inaugural TAB Everest – the rest is history.

There was only a length or so separating the first four home in the 2019 Shorts as Pierata stalked the speed to the turn and pounced 100m out to beat Classique Legend with Redzel, after leading, holding down third.

In 2018, the evergreen Ball Of Muscle finally cracked it for a win as an eight-year-old after finishing second in the previous three editions behind Rebel Dane, Takedown and Redzel. He didn’t contest the race last year but is back for his fifth appearance in the race on Saturday.

Pierata wins the 2019 Shorts

Who are the main contenders for the 2020 edition?

Bivouac (James Cummings) – this high class four-year-old is widely regarded as Godolphin’s number one TAB Everest seed and it’s easy to see why. Last spring he downed eventual Everest winner Yes Yes Yes in the Golden Rose and in the autumn smashed his rivals to win the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap. His subsequent form was a little mixed, albeit in the elite company, but he’s shown his readiness with two easy trial wins.

Classique Legend (Les Bridge) – the hard luck story of the 2019 TAB Everest returns to stake his claim for the fourth running in a slot purchased by his owner Bon Ho. After contesting the Everest and Golden Eagle he didn’t appear again until winning the June Stakes under 60kg on a heavy track. The grey tuned up for this race with an easy trial win at Newcastle and will be out to go one better than last year when beaten half a length by Pierata.

Catalyst (Clayton Chipperfield) – the star Kiwi arrives in Sydney chasing the $7.5m Golden Eagle but a big first-up run could see him claim a TAB Everest berth along the way. He was a Group 1 winner in New Zealand last spring and at his Australian debut engaged in a two horse war with Alligator Blood at Flemington before finishing down the track in the Australian Guineas. He’s trialled in New Zealand and if he’s sharp enough for 1100m he could make his presence felt.

Dirty Work (Team Hawkes) – based on his run in the Concorde Stakes two weeks ago, where he finished third behind Gytrash and almost nabbed Nature Strip for second place, you’d say he’s a major player. The four-year-old has come of age this year, he won three straight in the late autumn including a Listed race but it was his first-up run that suggested he can enter conversations for a TAB Everest slot if he takes care of this field.

Eduardo (Joe Pride) – there’s always been some raps on this ex-Victorian and in two starts for his new trainer has more than lived up to them. He held off Roheryn, a subsequent winner, first-up in Sydney then led all the way to claim the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at weight-for-age. He’s been freshened up with this race in mind to showcase him for an Everest berth, he looked good winning a trial and so far he’s hard to knock.

Splintex (Mark Newnham) – another coming out of the Concorde Stakes against the two TAB Everest favourites and while he only beat one home his effort had some merit. He’s much better off when he can take a position on the speed and get comfortable, something that didn’t happen in the Concorde when he was left chasing a fair way out. A Group 2 winner in the autumn, he’ll be fitter and his best is good enough to put him in the argument.

Early TAB Betting (as at 2.50pm Monday):
$3.80 Bivouac
$4.20 Classique Legend
$5.00 Catalyst
$7.00 Dirty Work, Eduardo
$11 Standout, Greyworm
$15 Splintex
$26 Ball Of Muscle, Jungle Edge, Fiesta
$51 Irish Songs, Tactical Advantage
$101 Prairie Fire

Other stats (since 1976):

Favourites: 12 (shortest $1.80 Hot Danish in 2010)

Longest Priced winner: $51 Classic Magic (1992)

Race record: 1:01.83 Redzel (2017)

Current jockeys: Hugh Bowman 4, Glen Boss 2, Tim Clark 2.

Current trainers: John Hawkes 5, Joseph Pride 2, Gary Portelli 2, Peter Snowden 2.