TTR AusNZ – Keely McKitterick – 4 October

Champion Trainer Chris Waller will be doubled-handed in the $20 million The Everest as Tuesday saw Chris Waller Racing announce Espiona (Extreme Choice) and Coolmore select Shinzo (Snitzel) in the feature.

Shortly after Espiona (Extreme Choice) was announced as the representative for Chris Waller Racing in The Everest, Coolmore confirmed her stablemate Shinzo (Snitzel) would take his place.

The news provided Champion Trainer Chris Waller in an enviable position with two runners in the $20 million feature.

Waller joins Warwick Farm-based trainer Joe Pride with two runners in The Everest – Private Eye (Al Maher) and race favourite Think About It (So You Think {NZ}).

Waller will be aiming for his third victory in The Everest after claiming the event with the Coolmore Stud-based Yes Yes Yes in 2019 and the recently retired superstar Nature Strip (Nicconi) in 2021.

Espiona gains Waller’s approval

The Chris Waller-trained 5-year-old mare returned to racing in the spring with a slashing performance in the G2 Sheraco S. behind Sunshine In Paris (Invader).

The Sheraco looked to be an essential form reference with Sunshine In Paris acquired by Aquis for The Everest shortly after, while at the time, connections of Zougotcha (Zoustar) had weighed up whether that Group 1 victress would aim at The Everest.

Sunshine In Paris would ultimately be ruled out of the now-iconic race, and Zougotcha would be directed towards other events.

Espiona was sent to the G2 Golden Pendant second-up. Ridden by Nash Rawiller, the mare ran out a dominant 2.39l victory over her Group 1-winning stablemate Atishu (NZ) (Savabeel).

The victory sparked conversation immediately after the race if Espiona would represent Waller in the Chris Waller Racing slot. Waller, confirming taken by the performance of Espiona in the Golden Pendant, said, “If we can’t find a better one, she’ll be there.”

The question was answered on Tuesday with Waller releasing a statement, “On behalf of our slot partners, Ingham Racing, Magic Bloodstock, Noel and Maria Greenhalgh and Neville and Jenny Morgan I am thrilled to announce the acquisition of Espiona to represent our slot for 2023.

“Espiona has proven her credentials over the past 12 months and her dominant display over 1400 metres in the Golden Pendant provides us with the perfect platform heading into the race.”

It was also confirmed that Hugh Bowman, currently riding in Hong Kong would return to Sydney to partner Espiona in The Everest.

Martin’s first foray into The Everest

Espiona has been a classy conveyance from day dot. The daughter of Extreme Choice had always displayed loads of talent. Espiona got people talking when she won the Listed Desirable S. by 6.5l at Flemington during the Spring Carnival of 2021.

Since then, she has added a haul of stakes victories to her CV, including claiming her maiden Group 1 success in the Coolmore Classic during the autumn of this year.

Espiona carries the iconic purple and white stars of Denise Martin’s Star Thoroughbreds.

Martin has raced Group 1 winners the calibre of the late Golden Slipper victor Sebring, the warhorse Theseo (Danewin) alongside outstanding mares such as Driefontein (Fastnet Rock), Invincibella (I Am Invincible) and Foxplay (Foxwedge).

However, Espiona will provide Martin her first foray into The Everest.

It is fair to say Martin is as proud as punch to her star mare to represent both organisations in the revered sprint.

“We (Star Thoroughbreds) are delighted to have Espiona selected by the Chris Waller Racing slotholders to compete in this year’s TAB Everest,” Martin told TTR AusNZ.

“Espiona is already a Group 1 winner and has returned in brilliant form this spring, and we believe she will run very well in The Everest.”


Espiona, bred by Torryburn Stud, is the first foal from the late O’Reilly (NZ) mare Dahooil. She was a winner and is a full sister to the Listed Helen Coughlan S. winner Bonny O’Reilly (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}).

Espiona hails from the family of the G1 Doncaster H. and G1 George Ryder S. hero Vision And Power (NZ) (Carnegie {Ire}) and the outstanding sprinter Glamour Puss (NZ) (Tale Of The Cat {NZ}), a victress of the G1 Salinger S. and the G1 Goodwood H.

Torryburn Stud offered Espiona at the 2020 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, where she caught the eye of Star Thoroughbreds and Randwick Bloodstock Agency (FBAA), who had the final say at $190,000.