Champion jockey James McDonald has been booked to ride Standout when he resumes in an important renewal of The Shorts at Randwick.
The sprinter will be out to showcase his claims to a slot in the $15 million The Everest when he takes on a top field that includes Classique Legend and the in-form Eduardo.
A Group Two Expressway Stakes winner in the autumn, Standout has been somewhat of a forgotten horse in Everest discussions, although co-trainer Gerald Ryan says he is still on the radar of slot holders.
“I’ve had a couple of calls about him for the Everest from slot holders to see what we’re doing with him. They liked his trials,” Ryan said.
“He will start in The Shorts and James McDonald will ride him.
“He’s going terrific. It’s going to be some race with Bivouac, Classique Legend, the horse of Joe Pride’s who won his only two up here, Eduardo, Splintex and there’s probably a few I’ve forgotten.”
McDonald will ride Standout for the first time in a race but he did trial the four-year-old in the autumn.
Nash Rawiller was aboard for his two recent hitouts but had a commitment to Eduardo, prompting Ryan to cast his net for a new rider.
“We texted a couple of jockeys and they already had rides and then I thought, I wonder what James McDonald is riding,” Ryan said.
It turned out McDonald, the regular partner of Everest favourite Nature Strip, was without a mount in The Shorts and he was more than happy to warm the saddle on Standout.
The flashy chestnut has won four of his seven starts but struggled on wet tracks in the autumn.
Stablemates Bottega and Villami are edging closer to their returns with the pair set to go around in barrier trials at Rosehill on Tuesday.
“I think he has made really good improvement from a three to four-year-old,” Ryan said.
Villami will have her spring runs spaced and be aimed towards the Magic Millions carnival at the Gold Coast in January.