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'How far did he win by?': Classique Legend wins The Everest for veteran trainer

The grey horse stormed home off a hot speed to deliver a fairytale result for Les Bridge and jockey Kerrin McEvoy.

Les Bridge cut a lonely figure in the mounting yard as The Everest jumped, watching the race by himself on the big screen.

A minute later he was walking like Tiger Woods following a putt to win a major as Classique Legend careered to victory.

Bridge had won majors before – a Golden Slipper, a Melbourne Cup – but he had never had a horse like Classique Legend. He had never won a $15 million race. The Everest didn't make Bridge a legend, but it confirmed that he is a master.

"He is different fella, it's hard to explain. I'm getting old but that makes you know how special he is," the 82-year-old Bridge said. "I'm still throwing punches and winning fights.

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"I told you he is the best horse I have had."

As the field wheeled the Randwick turn, Bridge shuffled his feet, as if to get the line of the putt. At the 300-metre mark he stood still and then began to walk away soon after without looking at the screen.

Les Bridge, trainer of the winner Classique Legend, watches The Everest by himself from the mounting yard.

Les Bridge, trainer of the winner Classique Legend, watches The Everest by himself from the mounting yard.Credit:Adam Pengilly

Classique Legend had made the seven or eight lengths he had given tearaway leader Eduardo at the top of the straight and was hitting top gear. Bridge didn't need to watch anymore.

By the post the margin was 2-½ lengths back to Bivouac, another half-length away was Gytrash in third. Both had followed the winner but simply couldn't match him.

"He got there and still had that explosive acceleration," Bridge said. "I have never been so confident going into a big race, that's why I walked away because I knew that was going to happen.

"I have been telling you guys that for three months.

Classique Legend wins  the TAB Everest race on Saturday.

Classique Legend wins the TAB Everest race on Saturday.Credit:Getty

"How far did he win by? I don't even know."

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy had won The Everest twice before on Redzel, but not like this: dominant and in a world of his own.

"That's the best win in that race, the margin tells you that," McEvoy said.

The frantic early tempo suited swoopers. Eduardo ran 33.26 seconds for the first 600m out of the gates, which meant those back in the field would be coming and coming hard, none harder than Classique Legend.

Bridge said the bitter taste when second in the Premiere Stakes had delivered the biggest prize.

"That broke my heart the other day when he got beat," Bridge said. "But that won me The Everest. No doubt about it.

"We decided then to ride him how he likes to be ridden and you saw what happened."

McEvoy said he was worried at the halfway point but once he got into gear, he knew the race was his.

"I just had to ride my race. I looked up at the 600m and they were well in front, they were off," McEvoy said. "I thought 'far out, if Nature Strip and his companions are back to their best they are going to take a bit of running down'."

"Full credit to my horse with that cover and that soft time of it early, he was really able to power when I asked him.

"Soon after straightening I was confident I was going to pick them up."

Bridge will now again have to try to keep Classique Legend in Australia with Hong Kong-based owner Bon Ho likely to want him to race over there, having already planned to have him there this year.

"He'll still probably go to Hong Kong, we'll see what happens. We kidnapped him last time," Bridge said.

There were no excuses behind Classique Legend, Godolphin were second and fourth with Bivouac and Trekking to go with a couple of thirds in previous editions.

"I thought we were the winner coming to the turn with Bivouac until I saw Classique Legend take off and put a couple on us," Godolphin boss Vin Cox said. "He is a super horse."

Glen Boss had felt the same in the saddle of Bivouac.

"He went outstanding my horse. Full credit to the winner. I followed him. He put three lengths on me when I was quickening. We couldn't have beaten the winner today," he said.

Adelaide trainer Gordon Richards was thrilled to run third with Gytrash, who was chasing Classique Legend all the way.

"We came here a couple of months ago thinking we could run in The Everest. He has proven he is up to the best of them in the country and we stay here and hopefully win the Yes Yes Yes in a couple of weeks."

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Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald

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