Spinnawitch Ready to Step Up in 2012 Winter Challenge

Spinnawitch is on track to record the first black-type victory of her career this weekend when she lines up in the Listed $100,000 2012 Winter Challenge (1600m) at Warwick Farm.

The five-year-old mare returned from a 14-month absence two weeks ago in a BM83 Handicap at Warwick Farm to produce an upset 2 1/2 length win.

A former group level place-getter, trainer Jarrod Austin believes the daughter of Country Reel is again ready to step up to stakes racing.

“It’s a steep rise in class but I’m quietly confident she’ll handle it,” Austin said.

“I’ve been really happy with her.

“She has surprised me with how well she has come through the run.”

The rising six-year-old is lightly raced, having recorded two career victories from 13 starts.

In her return to stakes racing she will be facing a number of horses with black-type victory to their name including last-start winner Irish Dream.

The Ron Quinton-trained mare scored her first ever stakes win in the Listed Winter Stakes when upsetting favourite See The World on a slow Warwick Farm track.

Gai Waterhouse-trained gelding King Lionheart will need to bounce back from a disappointing first-up ninth but has shown he is well and truly up to this level with a win in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes last year.

One horse coming into the race in good form is Gerald Ryan-trained three-year-old Australian Star who will be stepping up to Listed level for the first time.

The Exceed And Excel gelding is chasing a fourth consecutive victory after a dominant period in lower level events at Rosehill this winter.

Former Doncaster place-getter Brilliant Light will be out to end a 27-month drought, having not scored victory since April 2010.

Betting will open later this week on the Winter Challenge and you can be confident bookmaker.com.au will have great value odds.

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