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The master trainer Les Bridge admitted the combination of a wet track and the expected frenetic race tempo has him worried on the eve Classique Legend's defence of his title in the $15 million The TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
"The horse is spot on – I just don't want a heavy track," Bridge said.
"It might be just a bridge too far because it is going to be a brutal pace and he is first-up from a spell.
"If we get a slow track no problem but a heavy track will make it tough for the horse."
Bridge, 83, has been the centre of media attention in the build-up to The Everest as he prepares Classique Legend to go first-up in the world's richest turf race.
"When you have a stable full of slow ones no one wants to talk to you so it's better than that," Bridge said.
The Hall of Fame trainer has been asked the same question virtually every day about Classique Legend so it was worth going there one more time: "Is the horse ready for The Everest?"
"He broke 24s for his final two (furlongs, about 400m) this morning and he did it easily," Bridge said.
"We weren't out to run any records, he pulled up 'beautiful', he's lovely and relaxed, he looks good. I can't do any more than what we have done.
"The barrier draw I think works out well for him. Those fast horses will come across and I reckon he will be four lengths away 'smoking his pipe'.
"He (jockey Kerrin McEvoy) will just sit on him and sit on him and have the one crack at them late.
"All his great runs have been where they were pressure races, they put the speed on and he can come home over the top.
"He's ready to something like that again but I'd be worried if we got a heavy track."
Form expert Gary Crispe of Racing and Sports believes Classique Legend can emulate Redzel (2017-18) and go back-to-back in The Everest.
"Classique Legend is contesting the Everest first-up but if his recent track work and trial form is any guide, he will lack nothing on the score of fitness," Crispe said.
"A three-time first-up winner, Classique Legend has already easily disposed of five runners in the Everest field that were in last year's renewal.
"He ran to a Timeform rating of 128 to win The Everest that day and a similar performance here sees him as the horse to beat."
Crispe said Nature Strip is the main danger with one proviso: "He must bring his A game to the race!"
"Nature Strip has been unplaced in the last two Everests and is endeavouring to set the record straight," Crispe said.
"Interestingly, Chris Waller has varied the horse's lead-up form this time coming into the race off a 28-day break.
"This is significant because Nature Strip's last four wins have come off breaks of 28, 35, 98 and 147 days.
"There is also an emerging recent trend in Nature Strip's Timeform ratings profile that his best figures now seem to be in the Autumn.
"If that trend continues for The Everest, his best Spring Timeform rating of 125 is still good enough to give the race a real shake."
The evergreen Eduardo, who defeated Nature Strip in The Shorts over 1100m recording a Timeform rating of 125 is going to be hard to beat – if he can sustain his ratings out to 1200m, Crispe said.
"All of Eduardo's best ratings have come at shorter distances," he said.
"Two 'get-back; runners with chances are Masked Crusader and The Inferno. Both will need the race to unfold fast up front in order to launch late but that does appear likely.
"I feel The Inferno is the X-factor in the race. This classy former ex-Singaporean sprinter has won nine of his 12 starts and in two most recent runs in Australia, both at the unsuitable distance of 1000m, he has lifted his Timeform rating to 119 with the promise of more to come especially getting out to 1200m."
Online article taken from Punters, published on Thursday, 14th October 2021, Author, Ray Thomas.