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The accidental contender for The Everest

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

He is the contender for The TAB Everest that nobody expected and he has left Godoplhin head trainer James Cummings with some thinking to do as the remaining two slotholders circle.

Home Of The Brave's (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}) brilliant all-the-way win on Saturday's Theo Marks S, where he defeated G1 winning pair D'Argento (So You Think {NZ}) and Trapeze Artist (Snitzel {Aus}) has catapulted him firmly into calculations for the world's richest turf race at Randwick on October 13.

With just two spots left in the field, the 7-year-old could become the third Northern Hemisphere-bred horse in the race after US Navy Flag (USA) (War Front {USA}) and Brave Smash (Jpn) (Tosen Phantom {Jpn}) and give Godolphin its first ever runner in the race.

Trainer James Cummings has spent most of the past two months fending off enquiries about whether Kementari (Lonhro {Aus}) would target the race. Having confirmed that the 4-year-old won’t be going in that direction, he now has another very worthy contender in his stable.

Home Of The Brave was from Starspangledbanner's first northern hemisphere crop of just 33 foals and was brought by Australian interests at the 2013 Arqana Deauville yearling sale.

"The Everest slot holders are circling I think and I'm not surprised," James Cummings on Home Of The Brave.

He claimed a Listed victory early in his 3-year-old year before proving competitive in G1 races such as the 2000 Guineas and the Commonwealth Cup. He was then sold to Godolphin, winning at Group level and competing in last year's Breeders' Cup mile.

Now the son of an Aussie sprinter could be headed for Australia's best sprint race.

Home Of The Brave pictured as a yearling

"He's had an interesting career this horse," Cummings said. "He was gelded last year and then he arrived here in April. We saw him run so well up the straight at Flemington first up."

"I was really pleased to see him build on that and second-up he really exploded. He looked really good. He beat two really top-line horses in D'Argento and Trapeze Artist."

"It is a very satisfying win and I think we've got a lot to look forward to with him."

What is compelling about Home Of the Brave from an Everest perspective is that he is in winning form. Of the ten horses already locked in for the race, seven have raced in the past four weeks, but only one, Redzel (Snitzel {Aus)), has won.

Home Of The Brave dominated in the Group 2 Theo Mark's Stakes

"The Everest slot holders are circling I think and I'm not surprised," Cummings said.

The ATC and Max Whitby are the two slot holders yet to make their call on who their runner will be.

Nature Strip (Nicconi {Aus}) pressed his claim with a fourth consecutive win in the G2 McEwen S in course record time over 1000m at Moonee Valley on Saturday but with none of the dominance of Home Of The Brave.

There are still question marks over Nature Strip's ability to go the distance in The Everest

"He's got speed to burn and of course they’ve got a decision to make, Godolphin and I'm sure a lot of people will be very interested in what that decision is," Glyn Schofield.

While the query over Nature Strip is whether he can get the 1200m, the slight question mark over Home Of The Brave is whether the six furlongs is far enough having won over 1300m on Saturday.

It’s not something which concerns the man who rode him on Saturday, Glyn Schofield.

"He's got a very dynamic running style. His hoof's on the till and he wants to run along," Schofield told Sky Sport Radio on Sunday.

"He ran it like it was a 1200m yesterday, it was that quick. He's got speed to burn and of course they’ve got a decision to make, Godolphin and I'm sure a lot of people will be very interested in what that decision is."

Cummings has mooted the idea that Home Of The Brave could go to the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S. at Caulfield on September 22 over 1400m.

A clash with another Godolphin import, Jungle Cat (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}), trained by Charlie Appleby, likely awaits in that race. Those two horses were separated by less than a length when Home Of The Brave won the G3 Criterion S. at Newmarket over seven furlongs in July 2017.

Whether he could go through that race and back to The Everest three weeks' later remains to be seen, but he certainly showed on Saturday that he wouldn't be out of place among such an elite field of sprinters.