The Everest 2023 celebrations could be Alcohol Free

The most prolific Group One winner in The Everest, Alcohol Free is also one of the outsiders of the field, but Adrian Bott is warning punters not to underestimate the high-class mare.

After failing to fire at her Sydney debut in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) last autumn, Bott and co-trainer Gai Waterhouse opted to take a different approach into the spring and prepare the $10 million buy as a sprinter.

A first-up fourth to The Everest favourite Think About It in the Premiere Stakes (1200m) convinced owners Yulong that she was the right horse to line up in their slot and Bott is likewise keeping the faith, despite her $41 odds with bookmakers in the race.

“Put a line through what you saw from her in the autumn, that first-up run here was very encouraging,” Bott said.

“She’s got a lot of improvement there and I’m excited by what she can potentially produce for us.

“She is a quality horse, she is showing us that at home, and no doubt you will see a better horse on Saturday.

“Physically she is looking a much more furnished and stronger mare than we saw last campaign and mentally, she seems very happy and in a good space.

“All those things are pointing to a good performance for us.”

A four-time Group 1 winner in the UK over distances ranging from 1200m to a mile, Alcohol Free has double the amount of majors of any other horse in Saturday’s race, with Think About It and In Secret next best with two apiece.

Bott is the first to admit the six-year-old has taken time to both acclimatise to Australia and adapt to the local style of racing, but he believes she has turned the corner and expects her to take up a “handy to midfield” position on Saturday.

Stablemate Hawaii Five Oh is a $14 chance and comes into the field after his barnstorming second to Think About It in the Premiere.

As a horse yet to reach his ceiling, the four-year-old profiles well for the race according to Bott, and while he settled back in the field last start, he could take up a more forward position from barrier 10, as he did when winning the Fred Best Classic and finishing third in the Stradbroke Handicap.

“He’s a horse who is still lightly raced, he’s progressive and there’s more upside. That seems to be a profile of a horse who does very well in an Everest,” Bott said.

“He’s got that potential there and there is a good sense of timing about his campaign.

“He’s got tactical speed, we’ve seen him quite prominent in races before, so he’s got options from there and he may well be able to put himself in the race.”

Waterhouse and Bott are chasing their first Everest win, but they have secured two jockeys who have already tasted success in what has quickly become Sydney’s biggest race.

James Mcdonald, who captured the 2021 renewal on Nature Strip, partners Hawaii Five Oh while Craig Williams will bid for back-to-back victories on Alcohol Free after scoring aboard Giga Kick last year.

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