Dothraki in Group 1 challenge and Redzel returns in four-pronged Stakes attack

TRIPLE CROWN stalwart Dothraki heads a four-pronged Triple Crown Stakes attack this weekend as he returns to Group 1 company for the first time in three years when taking on the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.

In Sydney, the Red silks have three Stakes challengers, as Everest Champion Redzel returns in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes, while 2YO filly Belitsa has her Slipper credentials tested in the Reisling Stakes, and Emperor’s Way could be set for the Randwick City Cup.

Dothraki, now at the evergreen age of eight, last took on a race at the top level during a Group 1 campaign which culminated in a fifth-place finish in the Doomben 10,000 in May 2016, after missing out by a head to Malaguerra in the BTC Cup a fortnight earlier.

Yet he returns here in arguably the best form of his career, securing a maiden Group 2 success down the straight at Flemington in the Bobbie Lewis in September last year, and arrives here off the back of Stakes placed efforts at Group 2 and 3 level, and a third-placing in the Magic Millions Sprint in January.

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The leading son of Mossman has earned over $1.6 million in prizemoney since his purchase from the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling June Sale for $45,000 in 2012.

Dothraki led from the front when just gunned down by Eckstein in the Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes on February 16, and co-trainer Peter Snowden is delighted with how the veteran campaigner is progressing heading into Saturday’s Group 1 feature.

“He continues to work excellent and is in great order heading towards Saturday,” said Snowden. “It’s a track he really likes and he’s going down there as good as he can be.

“He’s had an excellent preparation so far, running very consistently and thoroughly deserves his chance at this level and he’ll be very competitive once more no doubt.”

REDZEL makes his return to the racetrack on Saturday when taking on the Challenge Stakes at Royal Randwick, a race he won in track-record time 12 months ago, and trainer Peter Snowden is confident he can repeat the feat once more.

The dual Everest winner is targeting the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes on April 6 as his major prize this campaign, and had an extended break in the paddock, bypassing the Lightning Stakes in favour of returning here over 1000m for the Group 2 contest.

The leading son of Snitzel hunted down Jungle Edge and Super Two to claim this contest last year, blazing the turf to win in track record time, adding to his track record over the 1100m at Randwick achieved in The Shorts.

He takes on another small but select field on Saturday, with Redzel moving into Barrier 4 in the 6-runner contest following the scratching of Jonker.

Redzel cruised to a four-length trial victory at Canterbury on February 25, and co-trainer Peter Snowden says there’ll be improvement to come from the six-year-old as he heads into a second-up run that will either be in the Group 1 Galaxy Handicap or Group 1 William Reid.

“Redzel is working really well ahead of the Challenge Stakes on Saturday,” said Snowden. “It’s only a small field but it’s a select field.

“He’s come through his trial well and while there’s room for improvement coming out of Saturday, I’m more than confident he’ll run really well.

“If there’s a bit of rain around that certainly won’t hurt him, but I’m looking forward to him returning on Saturday.”

CANTERBURY winner Belitsa is deserving of her chance in the Group 2 Reisling Stakes at Randwick on Saturday, says trainer Peter Snowden, as she has her credentials tested with the Golden Slipper just a fortnight away.

The two-year-old daughter of Rubick scored second-up at Canterbury on February 22 when toughing out an all-the-way success, and Snowden says that steely temperament will take her a long way.

“Belitsa worked strongly this morning and I’m happy with her heading into Saturday,” said Snowden. “It’s a strong race but they all are this time of year and there’s no escaping it.

“She deserves this crack at a nice race and she gets her chance on Saturday. The barrier draw helps her cause but she’s just such an honest filly and that will take her a long way.

“She’s come on again since her win at Canterbury and I think we can expect her to run a nice race in what’s tough company.”

Best of luck to all Triple Crown owners on this busy weekend of action!