‘At this stage 5000, but let’s see what happens’: Everest crowd cap could rise

There remains a chance the 5000 cap on The Everest crowd could be lifted further as NSW opens from its COVID-19 lockdown from Monday.

The $15 million race at Randwick on October 16, which at this stage is restricted to Australian Turf Club members, owners and VIPs, has already seen general admission tickets refunded. The ATC this week conducted a ballot among its members for a coveted place trackside, but things could change in the next week according to the Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, Kevin Anderson.

Kerrin McEvoy is looking forward to having a crowd back at Randwick as he tries to another Everest on Classique Legend.Credit:Getty

He hinted at the TAB’s Everest launch on Thursday that the Everest crowd could be increased by the government as part of the opening up of the state.

“As October 11 starts to roll around, we start to think about what does it look like on the other side,” Anderson said. “We are looking forward to having people on course for The Everest, at this stage 5000, but let’s see what happens.

“We have already reached the magic 70 percent [double vaccination level in NSW] and who knows what the next little while will look like.”

Anderson’s comments came as a shock to the ATC and Racing NSW and both refused to comment on the likelihood of increases to The Everest crowd.

The planning for The Everest is well advanced with the crowd to be segmented within different areas of Randwick. It is likely that access to different floors of the grandstands will be from different points, so to reduce risk and make contact tracing easier.

There will be another bubble for trainers and owners to protect the industry from any potential COVID cases.

The preparation for defending champion Classique Legend will continue with a 1050-metre barrier trial at Randwick on Friday morning, The session will also feature The Shorts winner Eduardo, which will have his last serious hitout in a 740-metre trial.

Classique Legend regular partner Kerrin McEvoy will be in the saddle on Friday as prepares to attempt to make it a fourth win in five editions of The Everest. Master trainer Les Bridge has decided to go into The Everest first-up after the grey flash returned from Hong Kong in the middle of the year.

“It is a different preparation this year, and we just have to trust the horse that he can produce his best. He is a fantastic horse fresh,” McEvoy said during the TAB launch. “Les is confident the horse has improved every week.”

McEvoy has not been able to be on Classique Legend since he showed a dazzling turn of foot to win a barrier trial on September 24 because COVID protocols have restricted jockeys to only riding on raceday.

“I’m looking forward to riding him in his final trial and get another feel of the horse before the big race,” McEvoy said. “There was good improvement from the first trial to the second and I think everyone saw that.

“I’ll be riding him in a similar fashion to what I have in his previous trials [in behind horses] and just let him finish off over the last furlong.

“It is a fitness-building exercise as well as gaining some confidence. We won’t be out there to break any records.”

Meanwhile, Regan Bayliss, who was on top of the world after winning the Flight Stakes and Epsom last Saturday, will miss the ride on Private Eye in the Golden Eagle after failing to ride a horse out at Gosford on Thursday.

Bayliss appeared to misjudge the winning post on All Too Scottish as it was swamped late by Midori Beauty. His head came up about three strides from the post and stewards ruled it cost him victory.

He pleaded guilty to failing to ride his mount out to the post and stewards suspended him for three weeks starting after The Everest meeting, where he rides The Inferno in the $15 million showcase.

Stewards felt the breach of the rules was worthy of a six-week suspension, but reduced it to three weeks due to his guilty plea and the meetings he will miss.

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