Damion Flower is more than happy with his choice of Clearly Innocent as his representative in the $10 Million Everest.
Flower, who heads a group that also includes Neil Werrett who raced Black Caviar, left it until last week’s Premiere Stakes to make a selection.
As In Her Time made a late bid for inclusion in Saturday’s Everest (1200m) by winning the Premiere, Flower was more captivated by the third placegetter.
Clearly Innocent was slowly away, then blocked for a run in the concluding stages at Randwick.
“I thought he’d be ideal. I was banking on him coming back and when he hit the line in the Premiere, that convinced me,” Flower said.
The Premiere was the Kris Lees-trained Clearly Innocent’s first start since his third in the Stradbroke Handicap in May but his owner Bruce Neill ensured Flower had not forgotten him.
“I got a really good promotional video off Bruce and I’d been speaking to Kris since August,” Flower said.
The 2016 Country Championship winner when handled by Greg Bennett at Scone, Clearly Innocent continued his development at Lees Newcastle stable.
Before his Stradbroke third behind Impending and In Her Time, Clearly Innocent won the Group One Kingsford Smith Cup on a heavy track.
“I followed him and followed him and when I saw the Premiere I knew he was on song. He’s the sort of horse I thought would run a strong 1200,” Flower said.
Flower also weighed up the Benjamin Smith-trained In Her Time, first emergency and favourite for the Listed Sydney Stakes (1200m).
“She’s a lovely mare and she should have won a Group One by now. I’d like to see her there for Ben but I had to go with my heart,” Flower said.
“Clearly Innocent fitted my profile and my plan of a tough gelding who was five or six,” he said.
“We all know that tough horses win these races. He’s lightly raced and he’s got an over 50 per cent strike rate of wins on the board.”