Invincible Star (I am Invincible ) has been selected for the tenth slot for The Everest with slot holder GPI Racing locking in the speedy 4-year-old mare to race in the $13 million event on October 13.
GPI Racing, headed by Greg Ingham, came to terms with connections of Invincible Star, headed by co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, with the deal brokered by bloodstock agent Andrew Williams.
While yet to win a Group 1 race, Invincible Star is considered one of the emerging sprinting stars in Australia and recently won a trial at Randwick by ten lengths against quality opposition.
She was last seen when second to Merchant Navy (Fastnet Rock) in the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington last November. Her five starts include two wins, both at Group 3 level.
"I think she's a worthy contender," co-trainer Bott told TDN AusNZ. "There's a lot of upside there. We're dealing with a stronger mare this preparation and I think she is ready to prove that."
"In her trials, she gave everyone a glimpse of that. And we’re just glad that she's been able to capture the attention and the imagination of Greg Ingham."
"There's a lot of upside there. We're dealing with a stronger mare this preparation and I think she is ready to prove that." - Adrian Bott, trainer
No grey for GPI
The brilliant & enigmatic Chautauqua (Encosta De Lago) raced in the GPI Racing slot for a fast-finishing fourth in the 2017 rendition of The Everest.
While it's disappointing for part-owner Greg Ingham to not have his star grey sprinter filling the place this year, slot representative Andrew Williams said the team are very excited about the 2018 partnership with Invincible Star.
"We are delighted to team up with the Waterhouse/Bott stable on this brilliant mare, Invincible Star," Williams told TDN AusNZ. "She has form around the best and the potential to be a superstar of the spring."
"She has form around the best and the potential to be a superstar of the spring." - Andrew Williams, slot representative
Like the rest of Australia, Greg & Barb Ingham of GPI Racing have been captivated by The Everest. “As slot holders, it is fantastic to see the image of The Everest quickly become the talking race of the Spring. It’s a real buzz to be associated with it as a racing enthusiast.”
Bott indicated that while Invincible Star hasn’t been seen on the racetrack since the spring, that second behind Merchant Navy, who subsequently went on to win the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, was a significant factor in securing a slot in The Everest.
WATCH: Invincible Star is nabbed late by Merchant Navy in the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes
"To have that form franked by Merchant Navy, who went on to beat some of the best sprinters in the world at Royal Ascot, I think that was a huge boost to her credentials," he said.
"They've (Williams and GPI Racing) always had their eyes on her to an extent and she's probably the horse going into the spring with the most upside and improvement to come."
Clash with the conqueror
Invincible Star will resume in to the G3 Concorde S. at Rosehill on September 1, where she will likely tackle last year's winner of The Everest, Redzel (Snitzel).
"She's had a bit of break, and 1000m first-up for seems ideal. That gives us plenty of options going from there towards The Everest," Bott said.
"(Redzel) is a hard tough campaigner. A horse like him will be a really good test for her and give us a really good indication as to where she's at."
James McDonald will ride the mare in the Concorde, but a jockey for The Everest has not been determined.
Two for Waterhouse/Bott
The deal means that Waterhouse and Bott will have at least two runners in the world's richest turf race, with the mare English (Encosta De Lago) already secured by slot-holder Damion Flower.
Bott said it is hard to compare the two mares, given their different level of experience and their different racing patterns.
"English is very much a mare who likes to relax and switch off in her races and conserve herself and produce that acceleration or turn of foot, where Invincible Star is more pure sustained speed. She's got a high cruising speed," he said.
Bott said that not only had Invincible Star physically matured heading into this campaign, but English had taken substantial improvement over the winter despite turning six.
"English is very much a mare who likes to relax and switch off in her races and conserve herself and produce that acceleration or turn of foot, where Invincible Star is more pure sustained speed. She's got a high cruising speed," - Adrian Bott, trainer
"James (McDonald) rode English the other day in her trial and he thought she felt better than last preparation. Even though she is well and truly exposed, English, she certainly not going backwards," he said.
It means that there are just two spots remaining in the field of 12, with ATC and Max Whitby the only two vacant slot holders. With so few spots in the elite field left seven weeks out from the event, negotiations are set to get even more competitive.
Invincible Star was purchased for $200,000 at the 2016 Gold Coast Yearling Sale. Her dam Romany Flyer (Catbird) is a half-sister to G3 winner Viking Hero and is also from the family of stakeswinners Innocent King and Royal Snack.
She has a 3YO sister who sold for $230,000, and a 2yo half sister by Zoffany (Ire) who went for $80,000, both of which were bought by trainer Ciaron Maher.