Congregation has McEvoy thinking of group 1 success after five-timer

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The last time Kerrin McEvoy rode five winners on a Saturday it spurned an Everest winner in Redzel. So, after dominating Rosehill on the weekend, the leading jockey is hopeful Congregation can step up and win the JJ Atkins at Eagle Farm seven days later.

The brother to Golden Slipper winner Estijaab showed determination to kick back after being headed. With a final lunge he earned a trip to Brisbane and has potential on his side in the final two-year-old group 1 of the season.

Kerrin McEvoy returns on Winning Verse, signalling his five winners at Rosehill on Saturday.Credit: Getty

“He is a nice horse and is still learning,” McEvoy said. “It was one of those days [on Saturday] where everything went right and he was the start of it.

“There probably wasn’t a Redzel there this time, but Congregation could be one to watch. He feels like he will enjoy the mile and he can step up on Saturday.

“They are a group of progressive horses that are going to keep improving and keep winning.”

McEvoy might have also found a Brisbane Cup ride in Winter Cup winner Al Aabir, adding to his strong hand on Stradbroke day, where he has Aft Cabin in the $3 million feature.

Congregation scores in the opener at Rosehill on Saturday for Kerrin McEvoy.Credit: Getty

Aft Cabin impressed McEvoy in a Randwick barrier trial on Friday, his final tune-up for the Stradbroke. The Astern three-year-old was fourth behind Giga Kick in the Doomben 10,000 but has always looked to be a strong sprinter suited to 1400 metres.

“He has won at seven [furlongs in a Caulfield Guineas Prelude] and was all right against Giga Kick at weight-for-age last time and gets back to handicap conditions in the Stradbroke,” McEvoy said.

“It was good to get a feel of him the other day and he gives you a bit of confidence. James [Cummings] just wanted him to go five home two in the trial and [Aft Cabin] did it really well.

“He is going to be right in the Stradbroke and add Congregation and it could be another really good day.”

Think About It (left) will run in The Everest for freshly-minted slotholders Newgate.Credit: Getty

Newgate happy to join the Everest family

Newgate Farm boss Henry Field has long regretted not taking out a slot in The Everest when the showcase race started six years, so it was an easy decision to rectify that when the opportunity presented itself this year.

Newgate have taken a majority share in the GPI Racing slot, with GPI remaining involved, and announced on Friday they would put run exciting sprinter Think About It at Randwick in October.

“We probably weren’t in the position to take the risk on the Everest at the start and it’s something we wished we had done,” Field said. “When this opportunity was there it was an easy decision to get involved because of the star power of this race.

“It is amazing that in five years the Everest has become one of the most talked-about races in the world and to have part of the franchise is an easy business decision and exciting.”

It means Australia’s biggest breeding farms all have a slot. Newgate join Godolphin and Arrowfield in buying into slots since 2017 while Coolmore, Aquis Farm and Yulong were there from the start.

Field had been monitoring Everest contenders and Think About It, who was born and raised at Newgate, was the obvious choice after winning the Kingsford Smith Cup.

“I have known Jamie Walter from Proven Thoroughbreds for a long time and they are great partners to try [and] win this race,” Field said. “We will be cheering for him in the Stradbroke on Saturday, where he is favourite, and we are confident he is the right horse for the Everest.”

Fireburn takes the Golden Slipper last year.Credit: Getty

Fireburn’s scratching highlights inconsistencies

The scratching of Queensland Oaks favourite Fireburn this week highlights the inconsistencies of welfare practices around the country.

Each state has its own set of rules when it comes to checking for the fitness of horses leading into a major event with Queensland requiring a veterinary certificate at acceptance time for group 1 races before every runner is trotted up.

Fireburn was found by a Queensland Racing Integrity Commission vet to be 2.5 in 5 lame after arriving in Brisbane on Thursday. QRIC head vet Sally Colgan deemed the Golden Slipper winner, who had won the Roses at her previous start up north, an unacceptable risk of running.

She had not seen the horse in person. Rather she viewed a video of Fireburn’s action, and would not accede to the requests of trainer Gary Portelli to have a second look at the filly in person before scratching her. Portelli pointed to pathology reasons for the lameness.

“The filly has a weird action at the trot and I tried to explain that to them but they wouldn’t listen,” Portelli said. “I would have liked them to have another look at her before scratching her.”

It’s not unreasonable for a trainer to ask for vets to take a second look at horses before taking a final decision as long as punters are kept informed and, as Portelli points out, such incidents can have an effect on the rest of Fireburn’s career.

“With this ruling against her we are going to give her a break and do a full vet check on her and run a dye through her, just to show she is all right and has no ongoing issues to remain in work,” he said.

Conscript ready for action at headquarters

Gerald Ryan calls Conscript “just a good little horse” who is ready to take the next step in Saturday’s Bob Charley Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.

Conscript already has eight wins from 19 starts as a five-year-old, and is ready for the natural progression to listed level.

“He has been a good money-spinner and we don’t have any real plans for him other than taking the next step up on Saturday,” Ryan said. “You know what he is going to give you and he won’t be out of place in the Bob Charley, which will be a pretty similar field to his last win.

“He got a few points for the last win but he is one of those horses that does the right things on and off the track and never runs a bad race.”

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