By Ray Hickson
Redzel, the nation’s new number one sprinter, will have his entire 2018 program devoted to defending his Everest crown.
In outlining early plans for the star five-year-old, Triple Crown director Chris Ward said while a Royal Ascot trip hasn’t yet been ruled out all efforts will be made for Redzel to be at Randwick on October 13 next year.
Ward said connections of the gelding would like to have a slot for the $13 million The Everest confirmed much earlier than for the inaugural running.
“Our overarching guiding principle is that we would like to have a slot locked in a little earlier next year so that we can ensure his training program is designed specifically with the Everest in mind as a grand final,’’ Ward said.
“We are happy to speak with any slot holders whenever they like to discuss different ways and options of doing things to get another great result again next year.’’
Redzel raced in the slot owned by James Harron, with the deal finalised just prior to his win in The Shorts, a month out from The Everest, but the process will start afresh for 2018.
Since his win at Randwick, Redzel confirmed his new standing as Australia’s sprint king with a tough win in the Group 1 Darley Classic at Flemington where three of the first five home came through The Everest and third placed Impending tackled the Sydney Stakes on the same day.
That win, his second at Group 1 level, took his prizemoney earnings to just shy of $8 million.
Ward said the logical autumn target for Redzel is the Group 1 $2.5m TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on Day 1 of The Championships where he’d be out to prevent Chautauqua from winning the race for the fourth straight year.
He said theoretically a Royal Ascot trip is possible but stressed The Everest is the target.
“Our main priority is The Everest so if we came to the conclusion that going to Ascot would get in the way of that it would make the decision for us,’’ he said.
“There will be other horses that might be competing at Ascot and could come for the Everest themselves. I believe it could be done but it’s a matter of whether it is the best approach.
“It hasn’t been officially ruled out yet, we haven’t gone too far into discussions on that front. The money here and races like the TJ Smith are very attractive.’’
Re-live Redzel's Everest victory
Ward said trainers Peter and Paul Snowden have done a remarkable job guiding Redzel to the top of the sprinting tree with six wins on end and seven wins from his last nine starts.
He added the decision to increase prizemoney for The Everest to $13 million was a “real exclamation mark on how successful the first year was’’ and is looking forward to going through the negotiating process to hopefully have the slot locked in before his spring prep kicks off.
“The whole experience was very interesting this year, learning on the run and not knowing what everyone was thinking but we go into next year pretty confident most if not all of them would want him,’’ he said.
“What we experienced after the race was enormous. We’ve been fortunate to win a number of Group 1s in the past and that’s typically picked up by all the racing media but The Everest was an event that cut through the mainstream media and the public.
“It was a huge success and I can only see it growing from year to year.’’