It’s on! Redzel locked and loaded for racing’s richest hat-trick

All has fallen into place to ensure the two-time defending champion is ready for another crack at Australia’s richest race, The Everest, at Randwick on October 19.

Having secured a ticket to Australian sprinting’s ‘Big Dance’, The Everest hat-trick is very much on for star sprinter Redzel (Snitzel), who has returned to Peter and Paul Snowden’s stable in top condition after a slightly under-par autumn campaign.

When Redzel headed to the paddock two months ago after his defeat in the G2 Victory S., there were two obstacles to his defence of The Everest title which he has held for past two years.

The first was the rising 7-year-old’s fitness and wellbeing, and the second was getting a slot to get into a race which had already been half-subscribed four months out from being run.

There are few guarantees in horse racing and even fewer in a slot race limited to 12 runners. But managing owner Triple Crown Syndication’s Chris Ward knew if Redzel could return from his break in good order, he should have enough runs on the board to ensure he was at least in the race.

“I was always very confident he was going to get a slot. At the end of the day, you only need one and I think you are always going to have people who will move very early and some slot holders who will wait for the final weeks, so I wasn’t too concerned on that type of thing,” he told TDN AusNZ.

“Being a dual champion of the race, he was always going to end up with a good chance of getting the slot and I was confident of him doing so.” – Chris Ward

“Being a dual champion of the race, he was always going to end up with a good chance of getting the slot and I was confident of him doing so.”

Also helping things was the fact that Yulong, which was the successful slotholder last year, was yet to fill its slot. Short of a contender emerging from its own racing stables, it was always highly likely to be involved once it became clear that Redzel had bounced off his break well.

“They have always been interested ever since we won it last year. They have obviously been monitoring things and waiting until a time suits them as well. We are really pleased to be able to team up with them and try and replicate last year’s result,” Ward said.

Yulong also share a strong connection with the Snowden stable and have raced several horses successfully with the Randwick-based father and son training partnership.

For Ward, there is no stable better placed in Australia to peak a runner in a target race and he is assured they will have Redzel spot on at Randwick on October 19 for the world’s richest turf race.

“I don’t think any trainers do it better than them. That’s why they are dubbed the ‘Grand Final trainers’. They are incredible trainers as far as peaking horses for their Grand Final day and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“Consistency in how they can do that is a testament to their horsemanship, and at the end of the day and if you can win a couple of lead-up races it is all good and well, but to be peaking on the right day is crucial and they can do it better than anyone.”

You certainly can’t argue with the Snowdens’ record in that regard. Peter Snowden’s effort to coax Redzel back from a setback which saw him scratched from a crucial lead-up run to last year’s race was one of training efforts of last season.

All the right attributes

Ward said that experience and skill, combine with the attributes of the horse himself was what has contributed to the amazing success the horse had experienced in a 33-start career which featured 14 wins and yielded $15.56 million in prizemoney.

“He’s incredible. He’s exceptional. He hasn’t had a lame day in his life apart from in the lead into last year’s Everest when he just got cast in his box. But that came and went quickly,” Ward said.

“He’s just been bombproof and he’s got the best attitude you can imagine. He’s just so laid back and relaxed almost to the point that before races Kerrin (McEvoy) has to wake him up a little bit.”

“Most sprinters have got bounce and edge to them, but he is so cool, calm and relaxed and he handles all the raceday pressure with ease. He conserves all his energy and I think that bears fruit in his races and that’s where he puts all his energy.”

New-look line-up

Of the other six horses already licked in for the Everest, the only two to return from last year are Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega {Ire}) and In Her Time (Time Thief).

Classique Legend (Not A Single Doubt) has emerged as a rising star through his late 3-year-old year, while the fillies turned mares Sunlight (Zoustar) and Arcadia Queen (Pierro) have already proven themselves against open class Group 1 opposition as 3-year-olds. Pierata (Pierro) has proven himself worthy of top class with his last-start win in the G1 All Aged S.

Ward is very much looking forward to seeing how his old champ can measure up to the emerging stars of Australian sprinting.

“I think it’s going to be another outstanding race. It has very quickly formed itself as the pinnacle of sprint racing in Australia and probably the world,” he said.

“There are some good up-and-coming young horses. It will be interesting to see what they can do.” – Chris Ward

“I think it’s a different looking field, there won’t be many returning, It’s shaping up particularly well, there are some good up-and-coming young horses. It will be interesting to see what they can do, up against the more seasoned horses. It’s going to be an exciting race.”

Making his own mark

So where would a three-peat in Australia’s richest race sit in the country’s rich racing history? The race may be only three years old, but it has already established itself in the top echelon of Australia’s races, promoting the sport far beyond the novelty initially predicted by many.

Redzel’s profile as a dual winner of the race, as well as of two other Group 1 races, the VRC Sprint Classic and the G1 Doomben 10,000, has probably been overshadowed by the unprecedented success of the supermare Winx (Street Cry {Ire}).

But Ward is happy for the fanfare to come should it be due after a tilt at a third win in The Everest.

“He’s been an exceptional racehorse. He was champion sprinter last year for a reason.” – Chris Ward

“At times it’s been the full-on fanfare and then there are times when you wonder if it’s a little underestimated what he has done. I guess the defining feature of the horse is his extreme consistency in what he has done over his career,” he said.

“It’s pretty rare to get a horse to perform as consistently as he has at that top level. He’s been an exceptional racehorse. He was champion sprinter last year for a reason.”

By Bren O’Brien