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COMMENT | Everest’s status as a breed-shaper undiminished by lack of Group 1 status

Three contenders in Saturday's The Everest can follow Yes Yes Yes' steps and frank their future stallion values with a win in Australia’s richest race.

When Rubick colt Yes Yes Yes won the third edition of The Everest in 2019, there was understandable conjecture whether the lack of Group status afforded to the race would impact his appeal as a future stallion.

He proved the perfect test case for The Everest’s value in this regard, given he didn’t race again after his Randwick success, and only had a G2 Todman Stakes on his resume as an official stakes win.

In the high-stakes world of bloodstock, people look well beyond the black-type when selecting a stallion. With a wealth of data and analysis now at their disposal, breeders make their calls on who a horse may have beaten, in what times and in what circumstances, more so than they do according to race record alone.

On that day at Randwick, Yes Yes Yes ran a track record for the 1200 metres with Group 1 winners Santa Ana Lane and Trekking filling the placings. Further back were future winners of The Everest Classique Legend and Nature Strip, and indeed, the winner of the first two editions of the race, Redzel. That 2019 Everest was easily the strongest to date and it didn’t need Group 1 status to know what Yes Yes Yes had achieved.

So when Yes Yes Yes retired to Coolmore Stud the next year, breeders did not hesitate to support him. He stood, and still stands, at $38,500, a fee commensurate with a one-time Group 1 winner of his pedigree and profile, and attracted 205 mares in his first year, the most of any first-season stallion that year.

He backed up with a book of 175 mares in his second season, making it clear that the lack of a Group 1 on his resume mattered nothing to those who believe that his race performance in The Everest warrants him to be considered among the most desired stallions in the land.

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Damian Lane on Jacquinot returns to scale after winning the Golden Rose. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The remaining four editions of The Everest have been won by geldings, making it difficult to assess its value as a stallion-maker outside of that example, but breeders and owners big and small have not hesitated at sending their colts or entires to the $15 million race.

This year Jacquinot, like Yes Yes Yes a son of Rubick, has headed to the race with his future stallion career assured thanks to his win in the Golden Rose. He runs in the Coolmore slot, was bred and owned by Coolmore Australia chairman Lindsay Maxsted and seemed destined to stand alongside The Everest winner at Jerrys Plains at the end of his racing career. However, he was purchased for an estimated $15 million by a Widden Stud-backed syndicate two days out from the race.

A win on Saturday over Australia’s best sprinter of the past decade, Nature Strip, would no doubt elevate his value and appeal as a stallion prospect for his new owners. The decision to send the colt to this race, and not the traditional stallion-maker, the Caulfield Guineas, is about far more than prize money. It’s arguable that a win in the Caulfield Guineas would not have made a major difference to the price he stands at stud, but a win in the Everest, despite it not having the Group 1 status, will.

The premium in Australian breeding circles has long been on sprinters and winning the country’s best 1200-metre race against open age horses is of more value than winning one of three Group 1 three-year-old Guineas races for colts in Australia, particularly given this year’s was a weak edition.

Ingratiating is an interesting prospect. The four-year-old son of Frosted was the last horse selected for the race, with Godolphin opting for him over Paulele, who beat him last week. Placed in a Blue Diamond, a Golden Slipper and a Manikato Stakes, he doesn’t quite have the resume to ensure his future as a Darley stallion, but an upset win on Saturday would seal the deal. It would certainly also validate Darley’s decision to shuttle the spectacular grey stallion Frosted from the United States over recent years.

The Bjorn Baker-trained Overpass never really loomed as an automatic stallion prospect but has shown himself to be a very consistent sprinter, with continued upside. A son of Vancouver from  the family of champion Northerly, he too has not succeeded at Group 1 level, but would undoubtedly come under notice from studmasters should he upset the apple cart on Saturday.

The racing pattern may have been introduced to help identify the best horses and bloodlines to breed with, but it is clear that The Everest’s status as a breed-shaping race is in no way impacted by the petty politics which have prevented its rightful elevation to Group 1 level.

This article was amended from the initial version to reflect the sale of Jacquinot to Widden Stud. 

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