By Bren O'Brien
Bound for The TAB Everest, English (Encosta De Lago) resumes in Saturday's G2 Bowerman's Office Furniture Shorts (1100m) having had her best-ever build-up to a campaign according to Newhaven Park's John Kelly.
English has been a flagbearer for Newhaven Park since she burst on to the scene with a pair of victories to kick off her two-year-old campaign and then ran second in a G1 Golden Slipper S.
Remarkably, every start since her maiden win, 25 starts in total, has been either at Group 1 or Group 2 level, including G1 victories in the 2016 All Aged S. and the 2018 G1 Doomben 10,000.
Perhaps even more remarkable are that reports from the jockeys James McDonald and Tim Clark, who have ridden her in her two trials leading into The Shorts, that she had improved since winning that Group 1 in Brisbane in May.
The reasons behind that, says Kelly, is because she has had a trouble-free preparation to date giving her owners at Newhaven Park plenty of confidence.
"This has been the best preparation she has had leading into a campaign," Kelly told TDN AusNZ.
"It’s very exciting to have her back in work. She seems to have come back very well within herself. At the moment, everything is looking quite encouraging."
"On her day, she's as good any sprinter in Australia. She's beaten them all. We just have to hope that we can have her at her best on Everest day," John Kelly on English.
That English may remain or even improve on her peak at six is a tribute to the way she has been handled by her trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, according to Kelly.
"Even though she has always raced in Group 1 or Group 2 company since she won her maiden, she hasn’t had a heap of racing. She's been sparingly raced and hopefully that's contributed to her longevity," he said.
"She's been well looked after by Gai and Adrian. She missed her spring as a three-year-old, where we didn’t race her, then she's only had three or four runs each campaign."
The target this spring is very clear for English, with Damion Flower locking her in with his slot for The Everest back in July.
She was sixth in last year's The Everest, beaten by 2.8l by Redzel (Snitzel) after running fourth in The Shorts and second in the G2 Premiere.
It is the exact same program this time around, with Kelly confident she can measure-up.
"Giving this is the best preparation she has had, we are very hopeful that will lead to some positive performances," he said.
"It’s important for everyone at Newhaven and their morale to have a good horse." John Kelly
"On her day, she's as good any sprinter in Australia. She's beaten them all. We just have to hope that we can have her at her best on Everest day."
She meets Redzel for the eighth time on Saturday, with the ledger 5-2 in Redzel's favour but at their most recent clash, she beat him in the Doomben 10,000. They will likely meet three more times in the next month.
Like all the farms in the thoroughbred industry, spring is a very busy time at Newhaven Park, but Kelly said the return of English is a significant boost for everyone involved.
"It’s important for everyone at Newhaven and their morale to have a good horse," he said.
"We breed horses and we race horses and we enjoy racing horses and we are fortunate enough to have a good one like her."
"We are looking for the next one, but they are hard to find!" he said.