In a week when most trainers with horses in The Everest field have, quite understandably, been pushing the positive factors of their horses and explaining why they are going to be competitive in the big race, a very laid-back Cliff Brown was happy to say he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
When asked on Racing.com, with a reference to the fast tempo that will be in the race, how he though The inferno was going to deal with that early pressure and whether he was confident that The Inferno would still be able to be strong at the end of the race … Brown replied candidly, “I’m not confident and I’m not pessimistic. I don’t know how he will cope with it.
“He might relish it or get run off his legs and not finish off. We really are entering the unknown. We are up against the best sprinters now. So, we have to stand up.”
The unknown maybe … but don’t think for a minute that no stone has been left unturned in The Inferno’s preparation for his biggest challenge.
When Brown brought his stable star back to Australia when returned from a lengthy training stint in Singapore, the careful path he was plotting for the son of Holy Roman Emperor included allowing for a possible tilt at The Everest if that opportunity presented itself.
“He actually left Singapore well before we did,” said Brown. “He had a break with Jim Conlon and then, after a couple of months, he came back to us. He acclimitised very well.
“We structured his whole program in such a way that if he was fortunate enough to make it (to The Everest), he would be right at the right time,” said Brown. “It was done in hope of course … but it was structured and planned that way and, if we weren’t good enough, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation, I suppose.”
And what is The inferno like character-wise?
‘To work with, he is a bit of a grump. I suppose he and I have a bit in common,” said Brown.
“He is his own man. He is lazy on the track, but once a rider gets on him it is his game-face on sort of thing. He might jig-jog around the parade, but once the rider is on, he is pretty quiet. At home he is pretty cantankerous … but that is just what he is like.
And what about the barrier draw … number 12?
“Ah, look, when you pick a number like that it is a terrible feeling. We’ve all done it. If we were speed horse it is probably a disaster but, from where we are, it is not the end of the world
“I think Damian Lane made a great comment when he came and galloped him during the week … he said, he is one of the horses where you ride the horse and not the race. I know he has spoken to Regan (Bayliss) and told him how you do ride him, and he also told him not to worry about what is going on around you.” (Damian Lane has ridden The Inferno in all of his three Australian starts to date. Regan Bayliss rides him in The Everest 2021).
“I hope to see him finish off. I think he can. I think he is talented … and we are about to find out!”