While allocated an inside draw for the sprint feature at Perth’s Ascot Racecourse on Saturday, trainer John O’Shea has conceded the talented field confirmed for the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) means talented four-year-old Sidestep will need to do more than jump well to break through for a maiden victory at the highest level of racing.
Noticeably green when running eight in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) first-up on November 8th, Sidestep has secured a total of three wins and a further four minor places from 14 competitive starts so far and is a proven performer over the Winterbottom Stakes distance this year, having taken out both the Listed Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) and Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) through his short autumn campaign.
Thrilled with the continually building form of the Exceed And Excel entire this time in, O’Shea told TVN he will let leading jockey Nash Rawiller devise the final plan during the running of the 2014 Winterbottom Stakes, but is confident the horse is capable of a successful run.
“The horse is in really good order, travelled over really well and he’s ready to run,” O’Shea said.
“I’ll tell you after the race if it’s an ideal gate or not.
“If he begins well then it should be a really good barrier.
“He’s blinkers first time, and sometimes they can dwell and miss the start and if he does that he could be in awful trouble from the gate.
“I’ll leave that up to Nash to negotiate.”
A standout performer for Godolphin over the 2013 racing calendar, Sidestep finished second in the Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m) first-up and won the Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) before placing second to Overreach in the featured Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) most notably in autumn.
Returning for a consistent spring preparation, the stallion out of Dextrous ran fourth in both the Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) and Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) early in the season, but was unable to handle the pace of open company in his first attempt when tenth in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m).
Having so-far received the greatest market share of bets for success in the Winterbottom Stakes, Sidestep has cut in from odds of $7 to currently register as clear $6 market mover.
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