Les Bridge has won a Golden Slipper with Sir Dapper and a Melbourne Cup with Kensei but he has never trained a horse as good as Classique Legend.
The octogenarian was moved to rate the sprinter above his best Group One winners after Classique Legend steamed down the outside to stun his rivals in The Shorts (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Bridge has not been to the races since the autumn on the advice of his doctor, who told him to steer clear due to the COVID-19 risk.
But he wasn’t missing Classique Legend’s return race for anything.
“I haven’t been for four months so it took something to bring me back,” Bridge said.
“It doesn’t surprise me. I don’t know how you blokes were tipping (fourth placed) Dirty Work.
“He is the best horse I have ever trained. You couldn’t do much better than that could you?”
Classique Legend was luckless in last year’s Everest and was destined for Hong Kong but the global pandemic put paid to those plans, giving Bridge another opportunity to aim him at the $15 million race.
“We had a lot of pressure on us today in lots of ways but I always had that feeling in my gut. I never doubted the horse,” Bridge said.
When asked what made Classique Legend so special, Bridge said the horse had a big engine under his steely grey frame.
“Some have got four cylinder motors, he’s got a V8,” Bridge said.
“I actually thought he was a bit underdone.”
Classique Legend ($4.40 fav) settled back in the field from a wide draw and Kerrin McEvoy had to skip across heels to get him to the outside but once clear, the gelding motored.
Eduardo ($11) was a length away second in another game performance with Bivouac ($5) a head back in third.
The win was the 2000th of McEvoy’s illustrious career and he was thrilled to get it aboard the Bridge-trained sprinter.
“I’m so excited to do it on this horse,” McEvoy said.
“I just had to bide my time and full credit to the horse, once I got clear air he powered that last furlong.
“I’ve been lucky enough to ride Redzel and some other great sprinters in my career and you’d have to say he’s right up there with those.”
Classique Legend will have another run in next month’s Premiere Stakes before tackling The Everest at his third campaign start.
Bivouac is in line for Godolphin’s Everest slot and Hugh Bowman was happy with his performance.
“He was a bit fresh mid-race but it was a great return,” Bowman said.