CAMEREN Swan is not sure what he is going to think about after Saturday’s $13 million Everest at Randwick.
For the best part of a year, Swan has been an integral part of six-year-old Newcastle mare In Her Time’s trek to the richest race on turf.
As a key member of trainer Kris Lees’ Newcastle stables, Swan has helped prepare Graff, Le Romain and In Her Time for the race over the past month. But his connection to In Her Time goes back almost four years.
Swan regularly rode trackwork on In Her Time for now suspended Newcastle trainer Ben Smith before starting his work day with Lees. That experience has proven invaluable for Lees, who took over as trainer a month out from the Everest. Lees has since gained starts for Graff and Le Romain, making for an exciting few weeks at his Broadmeadow stables.
“I said to someone the other day that I don’t know what I’m going to think about when it’s all over on Saturday,” Swan said. “It’s consumed me for a long time because the mare has been in it for a long time, but all these other horses getting in, it’s been great. There’s a buzz around the stable.”
In Her Time has long been the shortest-priced hope of the trio and secured her spot after group 1 victory in the Galaxy in March. A draw in eight and heavy track at Randwick have prompted her to drift in betting, but Swan was confident she was in great shape.
“She’s going really well and I couldn’t be happier with her,” he said. “I’m just concerned about the heavy track. I don’t want a heavy 10. She could handle an eight, and it was more of an eight when she won the Galaxy. Not that she can’t handle it, but I know she’s going well and I would have preferred it to be on top of the ground.”
In Her Time was a narrow third in the Premiere Stakes two weeks ago first-up. She won that race and the Everest consolation last year.
“She came through it really well,” Swan said.
“At the best of times she’s a little finicky, but she’s come through the run and put on weight, which is always a great sign. She couldn’t have done better.
“She’s going every bit as good as she was going last year when she ran well on Everest day. I think she’s right in it, as long as she can handle the conditions, I think she’ll go really close.”
He admitted to having a soft spot for the mare.
“I love horses in general but these horses that take you different places, you just get closer to them,” he said.
“Now I’m watching her in the big races and it’s a pleasure. I’m very lucky to have something to do with a horse like that.”
He believed the rain-sodden conditions will suit “warhorse” Le Romain and Graff, which will carry only 53 kilograms.
“With Le Romain it’s wetter the better,” he said. “If it’s heavy, it becomes more like a 1400m race and he’s the best 1400m horse there. I was concerned they would be too nippy for him, but the wet track takes that away.”
He said the conditions will not hurt Graff’s chances given his San Domenico Stakes win was “in the worst part of the track” on a soft Rosehill.
“The only thing is he’s had only five starts up against all these horses who have been around a while, and that's why he’s getting a bit of weight off them,” he said.
He thought Le Romain, the last of Lees’ runners to get a start, would have been “snapped up a lot earlier”.
“He’s such a good horse and so underrated,” he said.
“I reckon he’s in career-best form. Before last preparation he had colic and had to have surgery and he was off for a good six months. But he came back and put together a few good runs last preparation and I think he’s come back even better.”