Graff (left) will give the older horses a run for their money in The Everest. Picture: AAP
Graff (left) will give the older horses a run for their money in The Everest. Picture: AAP

Avdulla backs Graff to be smash hit in Everest

HE is the X-factor horse of The Everest and jockey Brenton Avdulla is hoping Graff's versatility can help the pair get the job done at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

"He looks pretty straightforward,'' Avdulla said. "He can bounce and put himself on speed from a gate or he can be ridden quiet, so he seems to be pretty adaptable. He also handles all conditions and I think he has the right form behind the top three-year-olds."

Sydney's reigning champion jockey faces a different scenario to when he ran fourth on retired super sprinter Chautauqua in last year's inaugural running of the richest race on turf.

It will be the first time Avdulla has ridden the Kris Lees-trained Star Witness colt, who will also be entering unknown territory.

"He's a bit of an unknown being the first three-year-old colt to contest The Everest, so we're not sure how he lines up," Avdulla said.

"It's hard to line him up against some proven sprinters who have been up there for a while during the past couple of seasons and there are mares in form like Viddora."

Slot-holder Max Whitby secured Graff for The Everest after he performed well against the best three-year-olds in the country.

He had a short undefeated juvenile campaign before resuming with an outstanding 2½-length win in the Group 2 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill. He then ran a place in the Run To The Rose and Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).

 

Gerald Ryan-trained Trapeze Artist gives his strapper Sam Phillips a kiss. Picture: Jenny Evans
Gerald Ryan-trained Trapeze Artist gives his strapper Sam Phillips a kiss. Picture: Jenny Evans

Trapeze Artist was the $7 equal favourite before the barrier draw in what looks to be a very open race.

"Luck of the draw and the track conditions will play a part but I think it's a race where anything can win," Avdulla said. "Redzel is a proven performer and Trapeze Artist is still ticking along well. You have Santa Ana Lane and Shoals racing well, too."

Avdulla will have to waste only slightly to ride Graff at 53kg, which is 3.5kg less than In Her Time, Viddora and Shoals and 5.5kg less than the older male horses.

"He gets in well under the weight-for-age conditions but he's going to have to put his best foot forward to be competitive," Avdulla said. "It's not difficult (to make the weight). I ride 53kg every three weeks or so and it's business as usual.

"I try not to change too much. I have a few personal training sessions but I don't screw myself right down on my diet. I like to still eat. I'll have fish on Friday night then start cutting the fluids out from then on."

Avdulla said it was important not to dwell on the fact The Everest is a $13 million race, but look at it as another 1200m event that must be won. Even so, he's champing at the bit.

"It's a $13 million race and it has grabbed the world's attention, so it's nice to have a ride," he said. "It's exciting."



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