By Ray Hickson
Redzel is still Redzel – that’s the news from trainer Peter Snowden ahead of the dual Everest champ’s return at Randwick on Saturday.
And that means he’s in the right shape to successfully defend the Group 2 $500,000 Hyland Race Colours Challenge Stakes (1000m).
It’ll be no walk in the park, on paper at least, as the rising seven-year-old faces off with speedy Golden Slipper winner Estijaab and the evergreen Ball Of Muscle.
“He’s nice and healthy, his work is really good and he’s shown the same enthusiasm he always has,’’ Snowden said.
“It’s the race he needs to have to get him started for the TJ, no matter what’s in the race he runs there. He’ll take good benefit from it as he always does.
“But he’s ready to go, the second trial was really good at Canterbury the other day.’’
Redzel wins his barrier trial at Canterbury on February 25
The $15 million earner was beaten half a length in his first barrier trial but is a different horse with his blinkers on as he showed as Kerrin McEvoy guided him to a four length trial win on February 25.
Redzel started $1.40 and set a new course record in winning last year’s Challenge Stakes, he opened at $1.70 with TAB on Wednesday, and he kicked off his Everest defence in the spring with another Randwick 1000m win in the Concorde Stakes.
Snowden said he’s looking forward to the new opposition Estijaab provides and has plenty of respect for the hardy Ball Of Muscle.
“One thing about (Redzel) is you can ride him off the speed, he’s not a one dimensional horse who has to lead,’’ he said.
“He’s just got a really good cruising speed and he can sustain a good gallop. His work and that trial has showed me he’s back as good as he ever was.’’
Redzel will have a four-start autumn campaign targeted at the Group 1 $2.5m Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) where Snowden is keen to avenge his defeat at the hands of Trapeze Artist from last year.
He will definitely have a run in between the Challenge and the TJ and Snowden said he’d like that to be in the Group 1 $700,000 The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill on Golden Slipper day where he can expect to be top weight.
“If the handicapper is friendly I’ll stick around, I’d sooner stay here but if he’s giving away too much weight to too many good horses I’ll go to Melbourne,’’ he said.
The gelding, all being well, will round out his autumn chasing a second Doomben 10,000 before he spells in Queensland and is set for an Everest three-peat.