Santa parks sleigh on Everest starting line
SANTA Ana Lane has joined the stellar group of seven sprinters to have secured a start in the $13 million The Everest at Royal Randwick later this year.
Everest slot-holder Inglis revealed on Thursday it had successfully negotiated with Santa Ana Lane's owners to contest the world's richest turf race.
This gives Santa Ana Lane's trainer Anthony Freedman two starters in The Everest, as stablemate Shoals was picked up by The Star.
There are now seven speedsters in the Everest field and each is a Group 1 winner this season - Redzel, Trapeze Artist, In Her Time, English, Brave Smash, Shoals and Santa Ana Lane.
Freedman's duo commanded Everest slots as each won three Group 1 races this season.
Shoals won the Myer Classic last spring and returned in autumn to win the Surround Stakes and Robert Sangster Stakes.
Santa Ana Lane won the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes last spring and ended 2017-18 with successive big race wins in The Goodwood and Stradbroke Handicap.
After being purchased for $80,000 at the 2013 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sales, Santa Ana Lane has developed into one of the nation's outstanding sprinters, winning seven of his 27 starts and amassing more than $2.1 million in prizemoney.
Arthur Inglis, deputy chairman of the Inglis selling firm, said Santa Ana Lane deserves his place in the elite Everest field.
"Inglis is proud and excited to be associated with the Santa Ana Lane team as they commence their assault on The Everest this year,'' Inglis said.
"Santa Ana Lane has proven himself to be one of Australia's dominant sprinters having taken out the Goodwood then following up immediately after with a very impressive Stradbroke win.''
Santa Ana Lane's late season form surge elevated his Timeform rating to 124 alongside Brave Smash.
Redzel, winner of last year's Everest, and triple Group 1 winner Trapeze Artist are the only Everest runners with a higher Timeform rating, with both ranked on 126.
The Everest field is expected to have another starter as early as Saturday if boom three-year-old Nature Strip wins the Listed $120,000 Creswick Stakes (1200m) at Flemington.
Nature Strip is at $1.45 favouritism with TAB Fixed Odds to score his sixth win from just nine starts and prove he can stretch his brilliance to 1200m.
The Daily Telegraph understands at least two Everest slot-holders are looking closely at how Nature Strip goes on Saturday before determining which sprinter they will target for the big race.
Trainer Darren Weir already has Brave Smash in the Everest field but he is making a strong case for Nature Strip's inclusion.
"He's as good a horse as Brave Smash,'' Weir said of Nature Strip.
"I can't see why someone wouldn't be looking at him but (Saturday) will answer a few questions running over 1200m.''