Toby Edmonds wasn’t convinced Houtzen deserved a place in the $10 Everest despite the filly winning her lead-up race at Moonee Valley.
A comforting debrief from veteran jockey Jeff Lloyd changed his thinking.
Edmonds thought Houtzen’s victory in the Group Three Scarborough Stakes (1200m) on September 29 was not good enough to retain the Aquis Farm slot for the world’s richest turf race.
Houtzen was selected early for Saturday’s 12-strong showpiece at Randwick and her trainer acknowledged reservations after the Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner didn’t put her rivals away at Moonee Valley.
“I thought the margin was only poor,” Edmonds said.
“I was a little critical and Jeff (Lloyd) said ‘ … if I opened her up from the 600 she would have smashed them’. I have to be guided by that.”
But Lloyd was quick to come the filly’s defence after her fifth win in seven starts.
“I wasn’t looking to give her a hard race. I could have let her go a little bit earlier and she probably would have looked more impressive,” he said.
Houtzen can make her own statement in the 1200m dash when she renews her rivalry with Everest favourite She Will Reign, seven months after finishing fifth behind the Golden Slipper winner in Australia’s premier two-year-old race.
“If she gets a fair and even track she’ll run really well,” Edmonds said.
Lloyd has held the reins for all but one of Houtzen’s races and Edmonds said the 55-year-old’s experience would be invaluable.
“We don’t have to work out how to ride the race, we’ve got plenty of options and Lloyd knows the horse well.
“It’s a $10 million race and he’s ridden successfully throughout the world, he won’t be in awe of it” Edmonds said.
Edmonds confessed The Everest seemed daunting for Houtzen when the race was unveiled in February, piquing the interest of owners.
“I got a phone call from one of the owners and he said ‘we should have a crack at The Everest’. I thought, a two-year-old filly. Do we need to?
“I was skeptical early but the build-up has been great and the concept is fantastic.”
Houtzen, a $23 chance with the TAB, is one of three fillies in the field alongside $4.80 favourite She Will Reign and Tulip ($61).