McEvoy continues dominance in The Invitation

Quirky mare Espiona has given Kerrin Mcevoy a clean sweep of the first three editions of The Invitation, swooping late to get the verdict in a thrilling finish.

McEvoy took out the race’s inaugural running on Icebath and backed it up last year aboard Promise Of Success before making it a hat-trick aboard the Chris Waller -trained Espiona on Saturday.

In a drive to the line, Espiona ($3.60) prevailed by a half-neck over Ruthless Dame ($18) with Magic Time ($2.80 fav) a short head back third.

Although disappointed not to be in Melbourne for the Cox Plate meeting, McEvoy said winning a $2 million race at Randwick was a good consolation prize.

“It makes up for not being there for Cox Plate day, but it’s a great racing day up here as well,” McEvoy said.

Espiona is renowned for her quirky nature but a debrief from regular rider Nash Rawiller in the lead-up to Saturday ensured McEvoy was prepared for her bag of tricks.

As she often does, Espiona got her head to the side and wanted to lay-in when she let down in the straight before lifting late under McEvoy’s urgings.

“I wanted to try and extract a bit more out of her, but I didn’t want her to go bananas and have her running into and bumping horses on the inside. It was that fine line,” McEvoy said.

“I needed Nash’s big, long legs.

“Chris has done a remarkable job with her, freshening up after a run in the premier sprint race, The Everest.

“She bounced back and recorded a great performance there today.”

With Waller in Melbourne, racing manager Charlie Duckworth represented the team in Sydney and said it was satisfying to see Espiona rebound after her luckless Everest run.

“The Everest was not ideal, she didn’t really get a fair crack at them at all,” Duckworth said.

“So to come here today and bounce through that and then have to course wide throughout, I thought, ‘gee you’re going to have to be good today to win’ and she was exactly that.”

Alcohol Free ($18) turned in her best performance since coming to Australia to finish a game fourth, beaten just over a half-length.

Jockey Adam Hyeronimus gave a glowing report of the $10 million mare and said she was looking for further.

“She has gone fantastic. I just think she is definitely looking for the mile,” Hyeronimus said.

“Obviously having those few runs at the shorter distance knocked the edge off her. I think you’ll see a much better horse next start.”

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