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Trainer Kris Lees is still in the hunt for a slot in the inaugural 2017 The Everest field for his soon-to-return Stradbroke Handicap third placegetter Clearly Innocent.
More than half of the 12 spots in the Restricted $10 million The Everest (1200m) event, to run at Randwick Racecourse on October 14, have already been filled.
Lees hasn’t given up hope of securing a slot for his Not A Single doubt six-year-old Clearly Innocent however with the gelding set to run first-up Saturday week on Epsom Handicap Day.
The Newcastle-based horseman has scheduled in the lucrative Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) on September 30 for the spring campaign kick-off for Clearly Innocent.
Lees hopes that a good run fresh from the Group 1 winner will earn the attention of a The Everest slot holder ahead of the weight-for-age showdown a fortnight later.
“I’m happy enough with Clearly Innocent, and obviously a strong performance in the Premiere might help us get him into The Everest,” Lees told Racing NSW.
Clearly Innocent is best known for his stellar Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival campaign last time in.
The horse enjoyed a three length romp home on a wet Eagle Farm track defeating Jungle Edge (2nd) and Counterattack (3rd) in the Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup (1300m) in late May.
His latest run was on June 10 at Doomben when just over a length beaten by the winner Impending in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
Clearly Innocent has trialled just once since and will be returning to Randwick in the Premiere Stakes for the first time since his sixth to Takedown when only three lengths away fresh in the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) last Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.
Current favourite in futures The Everest betting at Ladbrokes.com.au is triple TJ Smith Stakes winner Chautauqua ($5).
The champion sprinter returned last weekend at Randwick and was impressive in the closing stages of The Shorts.
The seven-year-old grey may have only run seventh to the star Peter & Paul Snowden-trained winner and fellow The Everest rival Redzel, but Chautauqua made up plenty of late ground in a flashing finish to be beaten only two lengths.
Memsie Stakes winner Vega Magic is yet to confirm a spot in The Everest field, but occupies the second line of the all-in markets at $5.50 followed by three-year-old Menari ($6.50) and Redzel ($6.50).
Menari runs this weekend at Rosehill, the Gerald Ryan-trained colt red hot favourite to take out the Group 1 $1 million Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) against a field of fellow three-year-olds.
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