South Australian sprinter Gytrash recently made the long road trip to Sydney via Broken Hill and Dubbo but his journey to the $15 million The Everest began 12 months earlier.
Trainer Gordon Richards had set his sights on securing the Melbourne Racing Club’s slot last year by winning the Schillaci Stakes.
But Gytrash jarred up badly in a lead-up run and was spelled, missing the Schillaci and an Everest shot.
“We didn’t get to go but from then we were sort of fired up to have a crack at it,” Richards said.
“We’ve had to wait 12 months and since then he has performed at Group One level consistently so I think it’s a better platform this year.”
Gytrash rose to prominence in the autumn with placings in the Newmarket Handicap, William Reid Stakes and The Goodwood but his crowning glory was a first-up victory in the Lightning Stakes.
That form established him as one of the country’s best sprinters and he became the third horse to secure an Everest slot when he was snapped up by Inglis.
Star sprinter and Everest favourite Nature Strip finished in his wake in the Lightning and the pair will clash for the first time since then in the Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Nature Strip is a prohibitive $1.40 top pick with Gytrash regarded as his only genuine threat at $3.50.
Richards is not conceding defeat and says Gytrash is capable of toppling Nature Strip, provided he isn’t run off his feet early.
“Absolutely. Ball Of Muscle will go out hard, Nature Strip too. If we can stay in touch with them we will be finishing off,” Richards said.
“The big thing is how hard they go in front and how far in front they get. It might be too much of an ask to peg them back.
“But it’s interesting. In the Lightning Stakes I thought he (Nature Strip) would be hard to beat. Nature Strip was $1.40 that day as well and he ran fourth so we’ve got that feather in our cap.”
Gytrash will be having his first start in the clockwise direction at Randwick and while his trackwork and trial signal he is handling the Sydney way of going, race day pressure is another kettle of fish.
His Concorde performance will go a long way to determining which path he takes to the Everest.