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For a small stable, Luke and Robert Price are heading into the spring carnival with big dreams

Count De Rupee will be out to woo the Everest slot holders when he takes on a handy Missile Stakes field, and he won’t be the only member of his stable vying for a slice of the Everest pie this spring.

Trainers Luke and Robert Price also have classy mare Jamaea waiting in the wings and Luke Price is adamant both horses are worthy candidates for the $15 million October sprint.

While Jamaea will be given an opportunity to showcase her credentials later this month, Count De Rupee steps up to the plate in the first Group race of the new season at Randwick and providing the track stays in the soft range, the horse is primed to put himself on the Everest short list.

“If he can win Saturday and win with a bit of authority, I think they would be crazy not to pick him,” Luke Price said.

“He’s where we want him. He has had a couple of good course proper gallops here at Kembla. Brock (Ryan) rode him (Tuesday), I rode the pacemaker and we were both really happy.”

The winner of The Gong over a mile last spring, Count De Rupee showed he was equally adept at sprinting with a Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m) success during the Brisbane winter carnival.

If an Everest berth doesn’t come to fruition, the spring prizemoney boosts announced by Racing NSW on Wednesday, including an increase to $2 million for the Sydney Stakes (1200m), will ensure there are still plenty of rich pickings.

“If you don’t get an Everest slot there is always a $2 million undercard now and the $3 million Nature Strip two weeks after that, so it’s pretty exciting for racing,” Price said.

“The first-up run holds the key (for Count De Rupee).

“The Epsom is there as well if he’s not going to be sharp enough for these sprint races, although he gives me the impression that he is.

“I think we’re in for a huge prep.”

Ryan has partnered Count De Rupee to his two most significant wins in The Gong and Victory Stakes and he will again be aboard in the Missile Stakes (1200m) on Saturday.

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