Jockey Brenton Avdulla admits that he welcomes the arrival of the nervous tension on race eve as he prepares to ride the highly rated Chautauqua in the inaugural running of the $10m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
“This week is all about enjoying it, although I’m sure the nerves will start to kick in on Friday night,’’ Avdulla told The Daily Telegraph.
“I actually welcome feeling that way because I’m a big believer without being nervous it doesn’t mean anything to you.’’
Avdulla got the call up to ride the Team Hawkes trained Chautauqua in The Everest after his regular jockey Tommy Berry recently took up a contract to ride in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Jockey Club have a meeting on Saturday and they wouldn’t release him to ride at Randwick.
Avdulla has become accustomed with Chautauqua when they teamed up for two runs this campaign, a seventh to The Everest rival Redzel in the Group 2 $200,000 Shorts (1100m) at Randwick on September 16 followed by a sixth to In Her Time in the Group 2 $500,000 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Randwick a fortnight later.
Even though Chautauqua has missed a place at both outings, the seven year old displayed his customary trademarks of settling at the tail of the field and powering home at the finish and Avdulla can see the race panning out in his favour with plenty of speed on up front.
“This will be hard pressure racing and he needs things to go his way,’’ Avdulla said.
“I hope we get a track that you can make ground and there is speed upfront — then he won’t disappoint.’’
“I just think the rock-hard surfaces he has struck this spring has made it hard for him to make ground.’
“I’ve been happy with the way he has felt and he is getting fitter. This is his ‘Grand Final’ and when Team Hawkes set one for a race, it usually has a peak performance.’’
Avdulla admits that there are plenty of talented sprinters Chautauqua has to pass in the long Randwick straight if he is to claim the first prizemoney cheque of $5.8 million but said that he will only be worrying about how his horse is travelling in the early and middle stages.
“The Hayes duo (Vega Magic and Redkirk Warrior) are in good order, and Redzel for the Snowdens is in great form,’’ Avdulla said.
“You can’t dismiss English and Clearly Innocent, She Will Reign is the favourite — it is a very even race.
“But I can’t be worrying about anything else except Chautauqua. I just need to get him comfortable in the run and the rest will take care of itself.’’
Chautauqua has firmed slightly in the betting for The Everest and is now at $5.50 with Ladbrokes.com.au and is challenging the $5 equal favourites Vega Magic and She Will Reign for the top spot.