Unable to figure late when eighth in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington first-up last weekend, trainer John O’Shea is confident sprinter Sidestep has the class to win the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Perth’s Ascot Racecourse on November 22nd.
Jumping from the gates well in the Darley Classic, jockey James McDonald settled the Exceed And Excel stallion off the pace of the race’s early leaders, and while pressing forward with 500m to run, fell off the pace of Lankan Rupee, Terravista and Chautauqua late.
Pleased with how the four-year-old has progressed since the run, O’Shea told TVN he is confident a Winterbottom Stakes victory is not beyond his experience or class, and is expecting a far-more polished performance second-up.
“I think his run was sufficient for a Winterbottom Stakes in my opinion,” O’Shea said.
“It was more than acceptable and I believe being cluttered up between runners is not his go.
“James said he kept sucking out of scenarios and didn’t improve quick enough like a horse like Terravista.
“I was a little reluctant to use the head gear (blinkers) on him first-up in a race of that quality, so I have them up my sleeve and I think he will make good improvement with them on.”
Securing a commendable race record of three wins and a further four minor places from just 14 competitive appearances on course so far, Sidestep performed well over the 2013 edition of the Spring Racing Carnival, highlighted by a credible run for fourth in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) on September 14th.
A standout for Godolphin (then Darley) over a short autumn campaign this year, the entire out of Dextrous finishing second in the Listed Fireball Stakes (1100m) before claiming back-to-back victories in the Listed Darby Munro Open (1200m) and Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m); unable to take his position in the Group 1 QTC Cup (1200m) after succumbing to a knee-joint issue.
A final field and barrier draw for the 2014 Winterbottom Stakes is due to be completed and released on Wednesday, November 19th.
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