Some of the nation’s leading trainers are rethinking spring carnival plans following Racing NSW’s announcement of a suite of prizemoney increases and new feature races.
Trainers Bjorn Baker and Adrian Bott want to set their stable stars for Everest Day which has total prizemoney of nearly $35m.
Baker has ambitions to get his top sprinter Overpass into the field for the $20m The TAB Everest on October 14.
“I was lucky enough to have two runners in The Everest last year and I’m hoping I can get Overpass into the race again,” he said.
“There is no doubt Overpass is a better horse now than he was when he ran in The Everest last year.”
Baker dismissed criticism that $20m prizemoney for The Everest is too much and some of the stakes could be better spent in other areas of the racing industry.
“The Everest has been remarkable how it has captured a whole new audience for racing,” Baker said.
“Racing needs to stay relevant and everybody knows about The Everest, it is going to be bigger and better again
“Everest Day is unparalleled and it is going to be even bigger this year. As a trainer in Sydney racing I’m just grateful to be involved.
“I came to Sydney (from New Zealand) 12 years ago and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made because what Racing NSW has done with the prizemoney since has been incredible.
“Racing NSW keeps taking the lead with prizemoney and it’s so exciting going to the races each Saturday.”
Bjorn Baker and wife Andrea with Overpass. Picture: Richard Dobson
Bott, who trains in partnership with Hall of Famer Gai Waterhouse, said the inaugural $5m King Charles III Stakes could be a target for the stable’s multiple Group 1 winner, Alligator Blood.
“We will have to look very closely at those programming changes for the Sydney spring carnival,” Bott said.
“Almost by default, Gerry (Harvey, owner of Alligator Blood) said to follow the same program as last year but it might be better to keep the horse in Sydney and aim at the new race (King Charles III Stakes).”
Harvey is also a part-owner, along with John Singleton and Ray Hadley of exciting three-year-old Hawaii Five Oh who Bott believes could emerge as a contender for The Everest.
“The owners of Hawaii Five Oh are keen to try and get to The Everest, and so are the owners of Red Resistance, who was a very talented two-year-old and it will be interesting to see how he shapes up in the spring,” Bott said.
Adrian Bott with Blake Shinn after Alligator Blood won the Futurity Stakes at Sandown in the autumn. Picture: Vince Caligiuri–Getty Images
“We’ve also got a horse like Kibou who is probably more a miler so he could be the type of horse to go to the new race and the Golden Eagle.”
Bott said the enhancements to the Sydney spring carnival can only grow interest in racing.
“Racing NSW’s prizemoney increases and programming changes are a vote of confidence in the racing industry,” Bott said.
“There has been no better time for owners, potential investors and participants to be involved in racing.”