Kerrin McEvoy didn’t deliver Peter Snowden’s first Group One win for Sheikh Mohammed but he hopes to lay claim to the last.
McEvoy will attempt to give Snowden a fitting send off when he rides the trainer’s final Group One runner under the Darley banner, Kumaon in Saturday’s Champagne Stakes at Randwick.
“We’ve had some near-misses this autumn in Sydney, obviously a second in the Derby (with Tupac Amaru), a second in the Slipper (with Earthquake) so it would be fitting to win another Group One when the focus is on Sydney and it’s Pete’s home state,” McEvoy said.
“It would be good to send him out with a Group One winner.”
McEvoy is No.1 stable rider for Darley and his combination with Snowden has been a great success, the highlight their clean sweep of the five Group One two-year-old races during the 2010-11 season.
But it was Corey Brown who collected the 2008 Spring Champion Stakes on Sousa to give Snowden his first major for Darley.
And if Kumaon isn’t successful on Saturday, Damian Browne will hold the honour of giving Snowden his last, courtesy of his Blue Diamond Stakes win on Earthquake in February when McEvoy was sidelined by a knee complaint.
Kumaon is a $15 chance on Saturday after finishing well down the track when sixth to Champagne Stakes favourite Peggy Jean in the Sires’ Produce.
While the colt got through a heavy Rosehill track to finish runner-up in the Pago Pago, he was never comfortable on the same type of going at Randwick.
The track was rated in the dead range on Thursday and McEvoy believes punters will see a different horse on a firmer surface.
“In the heavy at Randwick he was very unsure of himself in his action and he had his head on the side,” McEvoy said.
“It looks like it’s going to be a dry track on Saturday and the step up to the mile will be a plus for him as well.
“It’s an even field. Gerald (Ryan) has got a strong hand in the race but we’re hoping this fellow can improve on dry ground.”
Darley has an outstanding recent record in the Champagne Stakes which they have won three times in the past four years, most recently with Guelph 12 months ago.