By Ray Hickson
It’s been known for months that super sprinter Redzel’s primary goal for 2018 is defending his crown in the $13 million The Everest in October.
And as the moment nears for Redzel to assume the mantle of Australia’s best sprinter, if he hasn’t already, in Saturday’s Group 1 $2.5m Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick it can’t be long before an Everest slot holder locks him in.
Redzel won The Everest using James Harron’s slot, only secured a month before the race, but that deal was for 2017 only. To date no announcements have been made about any of the 12 slots.
Triple Crown director Chris Ward said there has been “preliminary discussions’’ with slot holders regarding The Everest. No doubt an impressive TJ win will accelerate those talks.
“Every decision we make we sit down and work backwards from The Everest,’’ Ward said.
“We're about picking our grand finals, for this prep it was the TJ.
“We bypassed a couple of Group 1s down south which we thought were probably on the easier side but that was for the betterment of his chances in the TJ.’’
The rise of Redzel from an unruly colt to a bona fide superstar hasn’t been a meteoric one but in the last 12 months he’s climbed the rungs with ease.
A year ago, on Championships Day 2, Redzel won the Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes and since that day his only defeat was his narrow Lightning Stakes second, first-up from a spell, on February 17.
He showed he was on track for the TJ with an easy win in the Challenge Stakes (1000m) on March 10, running 32.11 for his last 600m (Punters Intel) chasing a hot speed.
Looking back, Ward said Triple Crown and the horse’s 17 registered owners are grateful to be on the Redzel ride and marvel at what he’s achieved since he was gelded three years ago.
“We didn't think we'd end up with him at the sale, we thought he'd sail past where we were financially,’’ he said.
“I guess we got lucky. You want to keep them as a colt, especially when they have plenty of potential.
“But he went off the boil and wasn't converting. We knew we had a talented horse but ultimately we weren't going to see the best of him.
“The saving grace is the amount of prizemoney available to these horses, especially with The Everest.’’
If Redzel wins the TJ Smith Stakes, and he’s favoured at $2.30 with TAB to do so, he’ll surpass Chautauqua, winner of the last three TJs, as the highest prizemoney winning sprinter and jump to fourth on the all-time list in Australia with $9.6 million in the bank.
Not bad for a $120,000 purchase.
Only Winx ($16.5m and counting), Makybe Diva ($14.5m) and Sunline ($11.3m) would stand above him.
“I've admired Chautauqua for years now and to think we've got a horse that has gone past,’’ Ward said.
“Redzel is the new top sprinter, you've got to pinch yourself to think you're involved in a horse like that.
“We space his races and I think that will give us a lot of longevity. He’s the perfect racehorse.’’
Redzel was the star of the show at Tuesday’s Breakfast With The Stars at Royal Randwick, scooting around the outside of the course proper with a slick 34.5 seconds (Snowden's timing) for his last 600m.
And he looked like he was just cruising.
Redzel, the current favourite for the TJ Smith Stakes, working this morning ahead of Saturday - 35.7s last 600m #TheChampionships @TripleCrownSynd @SnowdenRacing1 @royalrandwick pic.twitter.com/DlL6lzlAAA
— The Championships (@ChampionshipsRR) April 2, 2018
Trainer Peter Snowden said the work, in blinkers, was just perfect heading into the TJ and he couldn’t have the horse in better shape.
“I knew there would be a lot of activity and I wanted to make sure his work was spot on,’’ he said.
“I wanted him to focus on what he had to do and his work was great. He did it comfortably. You wouldn’t get a better horse to work with, he’s very laid back.’’
After Tuesday’s gallop jockey Kerrin McEvoy said Redzel’s speed in his work and races can be deceptive and he has to keep alert to ensure he’s not overcooking the horse.
“He’s got that economical action and as a rider you have to make sure you’re not going too quick too early,’’ he said.
“I love riding him and he’s in good order. It’s just what you want for their last bit of work and everything points to him getting to the TJ in good shape.’’
There’s a chance Redzel’s autumn could be extended to defend his Doomben 10,000 title in Brisbane next month but as far as the connections are concerned The Everest can already be seen on the horizon.