The Armchair Punter is now a fan of The Everest

Stephen Brassel - Tuesday October 10

She's won 21-straight however it doesn't seem to matter what the champ does Winx still gets a few knockers having a sly dig and you can only wonder why. This week I'm also handing out accolades to the ATC and Racing NSW for delivering an Everest I doubted would ever reach any great heights.

The ATC and Racing NSW have climbed Everest.


Once again there were the usual handful of knockers despite the brilliance of Winx in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on Saturday, and like most it's all becoming a bit ho-hum.

She beat Ventura Storm, who despite being a Group I winner and placegetter in Europe would hardly be regarded as an elite WFA galloper in Oz with the sometimes brilliant, sometimes enigmatic Humidor finishing third.

Humidor was brilliant at his previous start and punters gave him a real chance on Saturday but he returned to his old tricks, doing plenty wrong in bringing his B-game so, it was suggested, the 6½ lengths win by Winx over Ventura Storm and Humidor was flattering.

Fair dinkum! I don't know what this wonder mare has to do to fully silence the critics, but that's the Aussie way I suppose, try and cut down the tall poppy.

Black Caviar won 25-straight but still there were plenty prepared to downplay her deeds saying she beat nothing on most occasions.

These two champion mares only beat the opposition of the day and, with a combined 46-straight wins between them how much fun has it been not only for connections but also for the Australian racing public. As far as I'm concerned the knockers should pull their collective heads in, it's boring.

Non-racegoers became regulars when Black Caviar went around and the same has become the norm with Winx. She'll win the Cox Plate the same way she won the Turnbull, and last year's Cox Plate, but don't worry there'll still be some knockers.

With the announcement champion European filly Enable is expected to race on next season we may well see the race which would ultimately silence all those who dare to continually criticise Winx, even though our champ would be taking on the Arc winner as a six-year-old.

Star filly Enable has won seven of her eight starts including five at Group I level and a clash between the two champs would be a match made in heaven, and if it was to be the contingent which followed Black Caviar to Ascot would be dwarfed by those who joined the Winx tribe.


I must admit to being somewhat cynical about The Everest when it was first announced but with the field locked and loaded I must admit to now being a convert and can't wait to see what transpires on Saturday.

The ATC and Racing NSW have worked tirelessly against the naysayers, of which I was one, to build up the day through their extensive marketing efforts, not only focusing on the $10m race itself but also around the glamour and excitement surrounding the entire day and the way it's shaping the event is set to be a raging success.

Everywhere you look, and listen there seems to be The Everest with newspapers and radio, billboards and TV all onboard promoting the big day. I even caught a glimpse of a helicopter flashing The Everest flag!

It was a brave decision to take on Caulfield Guineas Day head-to-head and there's no denying we won't know which way to look come Saturday.

Sure, they had a big throw of the dice putting up $500,000 for the Winx Craven Plate but unfortunately they missed badly on that front, but not with The Everest.

In the $10m sprint they've pulled together a sensational field of sprinters worthy of the massive carrot dangled on inception.

Would they have got the same field for say $2m? I've no doubt they would have but I suppose we have to remember the 'slot holders' are the ones who chipped in to get the prizemoney to the staggering $10m level on offer so good luck to all of them.

All I can say is bring it on. To tell you the truth it will be more interesting than having Winx cruise around in the Craven Plate anyway – with due respect to Happy Clapper of course.

At least we've got a race on our hands with the majority of runners having a very real chance.


A couple of weeks back I threw the towel in on Keen Array after what I perceived to be a very flat performance finishing a less than flattering fifth behind Bons Away at Caulfield.

On that occasion, he had the box seat and did very little in the straight after getting clear running on the turn, eventually finishing 3½ lengths in arrears of the winner.

I couldn't help but feel he was a light of other days but, at Flemington on Saturday, he proved me totally wrong.

Understanding he was 3.5kg better off against Bons Away and the two probably ran right up to their previous meeting, taking into account that weight differential but still, for the life of me, I didn't see Saturday's performance coming and I paid the price.

As they say, back to the drawing board with apologies to all concerned.


Despite all the best back-end support it's never that easy when launching a new website, as a few of us have found in recent weeks.

On Saturday it was the turn of a flashy new bookmaker who pushed the button on the site, backed by a major media campaign, only to be struck down when the business came flooding in.

It seemed every time the site got up and running, down it went down again but, like all these things the hiccups are eventually sorted and we look forward to seeing what this new player has to offer us punters when the real action begins.


Talk about a night out at the races! They don't come much better than last Saturday's return for Ben Currie at Toowoomba.

The locally based trainer prepared six of the seven winners and finished second in the other event.

Mark Pegus, who only recently moved north from Victoria to partner with Currie rode four of the winners and Currie is running at a phenomenal strike rate of 26% this season winning 32 races from just 123 starters.

While on the subject of big days out Jamie Kah also had the proverbial ball on a string, riding four winners at Morphettville, three for Tony McEvoy


Getting back to The Everest day, if the race itself isn't enough to get punters excited the ATC have thrown up 'The Punters' Pack, which even has me considering climbing out of the armchair for the day and actually trekking to headquarters.

I've always been one for the punter and while those millionaire "battlers" can do their thing fighting it out for $10m in The Everest the ATC have thrown up 'The Punters' Pack' for the masses.

'The Punters' Pack' includes general admission entry, two standard drinks, a Vili's pie, a Nathan's Famous Hotdog and a racebook, plus access to betting and bookmaker facilities in the Punters Pavilion which overlooks the Theatre of the Horse.

'The Punters' Pack' is $49 but only available for pre-purchase via the ATC website (click here) and when I checked it out on the website the freight is actually 40-bucks a head just to get in if you roll up on the day!


Kellstorm bolted in with three straight wins at Morphettville during the July-September period before a failure in Benchmark 82 company however the four-year-old import took his game to another level when an eye-catching third at Flemington on Saturday.

Sent around a $51 chance against the Melbourne Cup winner Almandin in The Bart Cummings he actually came from behind that horse and charged into third place only two lengths in arrears of the winner Amelie's Star.

The son of Galileo was formerly trained by Aidan O'Brien but since arriving at the Darren Weir camp has recorded four wins from just nine starts. Win number five isn't far away and expecting it will come this spring in a decent race.


I was a wrap for Spieth through his early days and was actually surprised when he wasn't in contention for a start in Saturday's The Everest however on what I saw at Flemington on Saturday he's a definite no-no from here on in.

If he is going to measure up as a serious Group I contender again Spieth needed to perform much better than he did when second last behind Keen Array and I'm scratching my head as to what the future holds for him.

After winning five of his first eight starts the stallion finished a close second in the Group I Darley and Group I Lightning Stakes but since then his four starts have returned a two-lengths second to Redzel in a field of four at Randwick with his other three runs delivering a 9th, 10th and last Saturday's 8th.

He went to the post as a $2.80 favourite and was beaten 3.6 lengths by Keen Array and I doubt he'll be going around that short again until he shows a bit more than what he's showing now.

Hard to believe a horse can go from where he was at to where he is now in such a short period of time.
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