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Graff and Chautauqua vie for Everest slot

4 min read

Slotholder Neil Werrett admits the battle for the final spot in The TAB Everest is down to four horses, with Chautauqua (Encosta De Lago) and Graff (Star Witness) the two at the top of the list.

Werrett, Max Whitby, Steve McCann and Colin Madden hold the final slot in the 12-horse field and a decision on which horse represents them in the world's richest turf race is expected early next week.

But while the G1 Moir S. and the G2 Premiere S. both feature Everest contenders and hopefuls on the weekend, it is likely to be the trial of Chautauqua between races at Moonee Valley on Friday night which has the biggest bearing on the decision.

Should Chautauqua jump successfully from the barriers in that specially-convened trial, the champion sprinter will be allowed to race again.

"He's definitely one who can win the race," Neil Werrett on Chautauqua.

Speaking to RSN on Monday, Werrett said he understands the massive interest in Chautauqua and he, Whitby, Madden and McCann have been keeping very close tabs on the grey.

"He's definitely in the mix and we have been waiting to see what happens," he said.

"As you know the Hawkes team are a very well-oiled machine and very good with their horses and we have a lot of faith in them. If they say he is ready to roll, he’ll definitely come into our calculations."

Chautauqua

"He's definitely one who can win the race."

Werrett was impressed with the way that Chautauqua charged home in his trial at Rosehill last month having blundered at the start once again.

"His action was amazing down the straight. We know what he's done in the TJ Smith before. He loves the track and loves the 1200m. You know he's going to be last on the home turn, you just have to hold your breath."

Graff is still firmly in the picture as well with the 3-year-old finishing third in Saturday's G1 Golden Rose S. at Rosehill over 1400m.

Werrett said that while Graff had his colours lowered, he feels he had little luck and would be much better suited back to 1200m.

"I thought Graff was very unlucky after looking at the replays on Saturday. If he had won on Saturday and the owners wanted to run him in The Everest, we would have been very keen to have him on board," he said.

"After looking at the replays and where the horse ended up, five wide on the home turn, he didn't have the dream run."

"I've had a quick chat to Kris Lees about the opportunity and he's going to have a think about it," Werrett on Graff.

Werrett said that with Graff's owner Alan Bell overseas, he had spoken to trainer Kris Lees since Saturday's defeat to assess the interest in heading towards The Everest.

"I've had a quick chat to Kris Lees about the opportunity and he's going to have a think about it." he said.

"The owner has still got the decide whether they want to run him in the race. Whether that interrupts him going for the Coolmore, that’s up to Kris and the owners to decide."

Graff winning at Rosehill

Werrett confirmed he had also been speaking to Lees about Le Romain (Hard Spun {USA}), who remains a chance of getting the final slot.

"He finished second to Winx last start, he's a strong horse and he gets the 1200m. If there was a bit of rain about he would come into third or fourth favourite. He's a bombproof horse," he said.

Le Romain, pictured here winning at Randwick is also in with a chance for the last Everest slot

The fourth horse which had been on Werrett's radar was Home of the Brave (Ire} (Starspangledbanner), who was slightly disappointing when beaten into fourth in Saturday's G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S.

Werrett indicated that the Godolphin import had fallen down the pecking order.

"On face value, he was disappointing. If he couldn't lead a 1409m race, I don’t know how he is going to head off Nature Strip, Redzel and the others," he said.