Trainer Greg Hickman has been left to ponder what might have been after Pierata was forced to settle for an Everest consolation prize at Randwick.
In a prelude to the world’s richest race on turf, the four-year-old ($4.40 eq fav) scored by 2- 3/4 lengths in Saturday’s Group Three Sydney Stakes (1200m).
Renowned wet-tracker Jungle Edge ($4.60) ran second with Clearly Innocent ($9.50) third.
Despite the all-conquering result, Hickman seemed bemused about his classy runner’s inability to secure a slot in the $13 millionEverest.
He said there had been discussions but no parties could reach an agreement.
“It’s all to do with the contracts … and whether it suits you,” Hickman said.
“The main thing is the horse has got back and he’s run really well.”
He said Everest slot holders would probably come to his door hat in hand to make a deal in another 12 months time.
With jockey Tommy Berry aboard, Pierata was untroubled by the heavy track and showed the 11-horse field a clean set of heels after powering away inside the 150m.
Berry felt he had it won even further out.
“I knew I was going to win around the corner because he dipped quite badly just before the bend,” he said.
“Usually when they do that and aren’t handling it they drop the bit. He picked it straight up, got on with the job and made it look too easy for me.”
Berry was thrilled to partner with the “underrated” Hickman for the Group Three win.
“That means a lot to me,” Berry said.
“I was born and bred at Warwick Farm so Greg has been a big part of my career.
“He gave me a lot of help early on and a lot of rides.”
Dropping back in distance to 1200m from 1600m with the blinkers on, Pierata atoned for his ninth-place finish in the Epsom Handicap two weeks ago.
“His attitude was a lot better today. He looked enormous and it fitted him perfectly,” Hickman said.
“He might be a bit stronger next time around. I just think 1200 to 1400 metres might be the best of him.”