Clearly Innocent ready for The Everest
Not A Single Doubt has the distinction of putting up two contenders for The Everest from the same 2011 crop, Group 1 winner Clearly Innocent and Fell Swoop, a Group 2 winner and five times Group 1-placed.
Despite their double-figure odds, both these 6YO geldings boast excellent past performances in the best sprint company. In their best form, both are capable of collecting the Everest winner’s $5.8 million prizemoney and putting Not A Single Doubt on top of the General Sires’ premiership. (He’s currently 7th with $1.6 million).
Slot-holder Damion Flower of Jadeskye Racing was happy to wait until a fortnight before the race to finalise an agreement with owner-breeder Bruce Neill of Cressfield for Clearly Innocent to contest the $10 million race.
Damion explains how he approached the business of finding the right horse. “I knew I did not personally have a horse for the race in this first year, but I was looking beyond that to the second and third years when I could provide the race with a Jadeskye-owned horse.
“The process of securing a runner I found enjoyable, as I like following all horses, so searching through the form of our top sprinters and their performances within the form races was second nature for me.
“The business side of it was exactly that, business, and from the outset I had it in my mind that I was going to wait till the very end. Even though I had a few horses in my sights, I still felt my best option was to secure the horse that was in form and Clearly Innocent was that horse.”
Damion believes several factors give Clearly Innocent (ex No Penalty by Zabeel) a strong winning chance in one of the best fields of sprinters ever assembled in Sydney.
“Firstly, he has a better than 50% winning percentage, he’s a Group 1 winner and he’s by a stallion whose statistics show that his progeny perform in high-rating races.
“I think his pattern and his race manners will set him up for a high pressure weight-for-age race. Over the years it’s been proven that you need a tough, strong 1300-1400 metre horse for 1200 metres at Randwick, and that’s what he is.
“He also has the advantages of Hugh Bowman to steer him for the race and Kris Lees, an outstanding trainer and horseman – for me that’s a winning combination.”
For Damion, the decision to run Clearly Innocent in Cressfield’s Silver and Black Diamonds, Yellow Sleeves and Cap was easy.
“I would not have had it any other way, he has always raced in those prestigious Cressfield silks and that’s the horse’s and Bruce Neill’s identity and I would like that to continue.
“The partnership with Bruce was quite easy as we’ve raced a horse together before, and I always look at every yearling draft Cressfield puts together – they have a great broodmare band and Wayne Bedggood at the helm.
“My dealings with Bruce were simple, we spoke numerous times with ease and it was a professional process that ended with happy mutual agreement.
“I’ve also known Kris Lees for a long time, and the look in his eye when we talked about this horse made the decision quite easy for me.”
Damion hadn’t previously considered what he might do if Clearly Innocent wins The Everest.
“I’m superstitious and don’t like to count my eggs before they hatch, but now that you ask, I think it may take a while to set in, especially being the inaugural Everest, but you can bet on one thing. You will see me at the sales buying a horse for Jadeskye Racing that I think can take me to the race in the next couple of years!”
Clearly Innocent’s Group 1 victory came in the BRC Kingsford-Smith Cup G1 on 27 May, and his last start was an eye-catching third behind In Her Time and Everest rival English in the ATC Premier S. G2 on 30 September.