An old-school trainer became the focus of a new-age concept in horse racing as Classique Legend beat Australia's best sprinters in the $15 million Everest at Randwick.
Les Bridge, a veteran of the thoroughbred game, had his unshakable belief in Classique Legend repaid when the best horse to pass through his Sydney stable claimed the world's richest race on turf.
In a training career stretching 50 years, Bridge has celebrated a Golden Slipper and a Melbourne Cup triumph.
But he rates Classique Legend above all others and, in the countdown to Saturday, he was certain the sprinter was the best he had put a bridle on and wouldn't hear of defeat.
"I've been telling everyone for three months," the 82-year-old said.
Bridge was given a second chance to train Classique Legend when it seemed the horse was on his way to Hong Kong.
But quarantine restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic forced Hong Hong-based owner Bon Ho to delay those plans to send his pride and joy to the Asian racing hub.
"Yes, he will still go to Hong Kong (but) we will see what happens," Bridge said.
In becoming the first favourite to win the race, Classique Legend ($4.20) surged clear for a 2-1/2 length win over Bivouac ($9.50) with South Australian-trained sprinter Gytrash ($6) a half-length away third.
Classique Legend parked in midfield and conserved energy as Eduardo and Nature Strip set a frantic speed.
There was work to do from the home turn but by the time jockey Kerrin McEvoy had his mount out and running at the 300m, the race was over.
And while the margin will suggest it was a facile win, McEvoy, who has now won three of the four Everests, said he was concerned the leaders had gained too much of a break.
"I looked up at the 600 (metres) and they were well in front, they were off," he said.
"I thought, 'far out' if Nature Strip and the companions are back to their best they are going to take a bit of running down.
"Full credit to my horse. With that cover and soft time of it early, he was able to really power when I asked him. Soon after I was confident I would pick them up."
Classique Legend is the first horse to win the Everest from a slot that belongs to his owner.
If Classique Legend's future is racing in Hong Kong, he will leave Australia will more than $8.6m in earnings of which $6.2m came for his Everest win.