What a difference a year can make.
The Golden Eagle, which will take centre stage at Rosehill on Saturday, was run and won by Kolding twelve months ago and a viewing of that replay shows just how much Kolding was up for the fight, inching clear over the final few strides of a punishing closing battle to earn a fantastic victory.
Go back and look at the video again and, on the home turn, you can just spot a grey horse chasing back in tenth place in the second half of the field.
In the straight that horse never faltered in stride, but also did not pick up well enough to make up any ground and he duly crossed the line in that tenth spot, 5.70 lengths behind Kolding. Both the winner and the grey had started as joint second favourites at $6. For one, it was a day of triumph. For the other it was a day of disappointment.
Twelve months on, that grey … Classique Legend … is now an Everest winner with earnings of excess $8 million.
The 2019 Golden Eagle was Classique Legend’s eighth start. He had gained three victories up until that time, including a win in the Group 2 Arrowfield Stakes and placings in the Shorts and the Premiere Stakes, both Group 2 races, as well as finishing sixth in the 2019 The Everest … so it was good enough form, but he still went to the paddock, to a large degree, with his promise unfulfilled.
Classique Legend’s development and form turnaround on his return to racing this year was stunning.
He won the Listed June Stakes first-up. Then he went one better in The Shorts than he had achieved the previous year, claiming an eye-catching victory over the likes of Eduardo and Bivouac.
A second place behind Libertini in the Premiere Stakes was merely a minor hiccup on the path to his Grand Final, and Classique Legend would take no prisoners there, in the 2020 The Everest, where his extraordinary acceleration flattened all of his opposition in a display which devastated the chances of all of his rivals in a swift and compelling fashion.
So, yes, while it would be great to win the Golden Eagle on Saturday, but Classique Legend is the prime example of how the winning of any one race is not the be all and end all of a horse’s career.
For the beaten brigade who might leave with their heads down after the running of the Golden Eagle on Saturday, there could well be better outcomes in the future.
As we all know now, what a difference a year can make!