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Waller, Weir united in Brave Everest shot

5 min read
Australia's two premier trainers Chris Waller and Darren Weir have an excellent chance of winning Australia's richest race on Saturday.

While Chris Waller and Darren Weir will pit their best horses against one another in all four Group 1s at Caulfield on Saturday, they will join forces for Australia's richest race The TAB Everest at Randwick on Saturday with Brave Smash (Jpn) (Tosen Phantom {Jpn}).

And circumstances have conspired to suit the Japanese import, who was third in the inaugural running of the race 12 months ago, as he gets his preferred rain-affected track with questions over the form of many of the other contenders.

Waller, the winner of the leading Group 1 trainer for the past six years, has taken an unusual back-seat role as the slotholder behind selecting Brave Smash as his Everest runner.

"As Bart Cummings once said, 'one man can train a hundred horses, but two can’t train one'. I'll leave it to Darren." - Chris Waller on taking a back-seat role leading up to The Everest

"He's a good trainer. He knows what he is doing," Waller told RSN on Friday in reference to Weir. "He set a plan for the horse. He stuck to it a long time ago. I always like that. Who am I to question Darren Weir?"

"As Bart Cummings once said, 'one man can train a hundred horses, but two can’t train one'. I'll leave it to Darren."

The plans for Brave Smash to target this year's race were made pretty much as soon as he finished third last year's event and Jarrod McLean, Weir's foreman, who has overseen the horse's preparation, feels he is better prepared for The Everest the second time around.

"He's going better, obviously last year he went into the race trying to find form. This year he goes into the race as a Group 1 winner," McLean said in reference to Brave Smash's win in the G1 Futurity S. earlier this year.

Darren Weir

Making a stallion

For Australian Bloodstock, who syndicated Brave Smash, victory on Saturday would represent an enormous boost to his future breeding prospects.

Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett have already sent Japanese Group 1 winning import Tosen Stardom (Jpn) to stud this spring and are hopeful of Brave Smash following suit.

"He's not the biggest horse in the world, but he's a ripping type of a horse and I think history tells you the best stallions going forward are those smaller stallions," Murrell said. "You just have to look at the likes of Snitzel and War Front."

Brave Smash

"Like all owners with a colt, we just want to turn him into a stallion. The main aim was to win a Group 1 but if he could win an Everest and he's a colt, there'd be the odd person or two that would want to stand him."

Murrell is confident that Brave Smash would be well supported at stud in Australia given his performance as a sprinter.

"He doesn't have the pedigree of Tosen, but I think his race record is more what Australian breeders want. They want speed. He's been a beauty. He's sort-of done the job now after he won his Group 1. We are just hoping to be the first colt to win this race," he said.

"Like all owners with a colt, we just want to turn him into a stallion." - Luke Murrell

Twice to the summit

Preparing Brave Smash for his second tilt at The Everest has not been an easy task. As a 6-year-old stallion, he has his challenges, but McLean said his approach to his work is not one of them.

"He's not quirky. He's just got attitude. He's an ignorant little bastard, that's all," he said. "He cops plenty of work and he eats well, so he's easy to train in that way."

Murrell said working out Brave Smash's best racing pattern has been important to getting the most out of him.

"They are quirky horses these Japanese ones. There's no doubt he's a horse that when he gets into the clear, he's probably not as effective as when he's held up," he said.

"For that horse, that's the way he goes the best. He fell in one day at Moonee Valley in a Listed race, after he hit the front at the top of the straight. Tosen Stardom was a bit the same. If they don’t have something to chase they just think their job is done."

With that in mind, Hugh Bowman will be instructed to find cover, although Brave Smash may not get as far back as expected on what is likely to be a heavy track.

"The old theory is the bigger the horse, the further they sink, but Brave Smash being a bit of a lighter horse, I think he should be able skate across it quite well," Murrell said.

"It will be just a matter of what speed is in the race. From that draw (barrier 4), we may see him a bit closer than normal."

And Murrell think that a preparation which has seen him step through three placed runs, gives him and advantage over his rivals.

"We’ve got a bit of an ace going into this one. We’ll be fourth up, whereas most of them are second or third-up. So I think that will be an advantage," he said.

"Whether he's good enough, he's got ratings previously to say that he is. We are going there hoping we run top four and everything after that will be a bonus."