Cliff Brown has been a half-length from winning a Melbourne Cup and trained successfully in Singapore but admits “nothing compares to having The Inferno in The Everest”.
The star sprinter Brown brought back from Singapore when he returned to Australia in March has lived up to the Everest dream. Brown, however, was not prepared for the build-up to the world’s richest race on turf.
The Inferno spears away to victory in the McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley.Credit:Getty
“I can honestly say I didn’t realise how big this race is until we got in it,” Brown said. “I had Markham run third in the Melbourne Cup to Might And Power and Doriemus [in 1997] but this is completely different. The interest in your horse is fantastic.
“I can say nothing compares to having The Inferno in The Everest.”
The Inferno was the best horse in Singapore, winning eight from nine — including a couple of group 1s — before returning to Australia where Brown made The Everest his mission.
“You have to plan and The Everest was the plan for him, when I came back,” Brown said. “You don’t want to say that to too many people because horses can make you look stupid.
“You can be going to a maiden with a good one and they get beaten, let alone planning to take one to The Everest.
“I’m sure people were thinking when I came back, ‘he was good in Singapore but let’s see how he goes here’.
“I planned for The Inferno to run in the three races, and was hoping he would show he is good enough for a slot. He did and we are there.”
Brown is still re-establishing himself in Australia from his Mornington base, and has faith The Inferno could fast-track his plans with victory on Saturday. The five-year-old will represent not only Brown but Singapore racing.
“The reason he is here is because the prizemoney has dropped at the top level over there,” Brown said.
Fellow Everest hopeful Wild Ruler (rails) holds off The Inferno in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley last month.Credit:Getty
“There are plenty of horses that have come back. Just look [at] Aramayo [who] nearly won the Epsom last week and I’m sure The Inferno is going to run [well] in The Everest.
“His record tells you he is pretty good. It doesn’t matter where it is you don’t keep winning like that unless you are good. I think you are going to see a better horse at 1200m than the 1000m races he has been running in.
“It will be great for racing in Singapore if he runs well because it will show that it was pretty good.”
The Inferno didn’t look an Everest contender at his first Australian start, when he was beaten 4¼ lengths to finishing in the second half in the Regal Roller Stakes at Caulfield, a defeat for which Brown takes the blame.
‘I just think he brings something new to the race. The 1200m at a big track like Randwick is going to be right up his alley.’
However, he quickly rectified the record and got back to winning ways in the McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley before a fast-closing second to Wild Ruler in the Moir Stakes convinced James Harron to give him a slot in The Everest.
“I just think he brings something new to the race,” Harron said after doing the deal.
“He’s been set for the race so he’s going to be fit and hopefully peaking at his fourth start. The 1200m at a big track like Randwick is going to be right up his alley.
“I think there are a lot of indicators to say he could have a real peak rating for the race.”
Brown will watch The Everest from Melbourne with COVID protocols blocking him from making a hit-and-run trip north with The Inferno, who is a $21 outsider.
He has quietly been preparing The Inferno at Mornington since the Manikato Stakes and had Damian Lane ride him in a gallop last week.
“Damian was really happy with him and could see the improvement in him,” Brown said. “He will stay here then until Wednesday and then go up to Michael Freedman, who will look after him for him leading into the Everest.
“I love to be there, but it was just too hard to get there with all the quarantine.
“The work will be done and he will just have a trot and canter at Randwick for the couple of days leading into the race and be ready to go.”
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