Saturday’s Challenge Stakes 2014 is shaping up as a battle of the returning Queensland champion and the in-form mare as Buffering and Snitzerland prepare to face off in the Randwick Guineas Day feature.
There are 10 sprinters engaged in the field for this year’s $400,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m), but the bookies are tipping it to be a two-horse-affair.
Rob Heathcote’s Mossman six-year-old Buffering and the Gerald Ryan-trained Snitzel four-year-old Snitzerland both sit at the top of the Challenge Stakes betting markets at a current quote of $3.
Buffering, who finally broke their Group 1 duck during the spring after years of elite level minor placings, is back off a spell not having raced since November.
That run saw them post their third Group 1 win on the trot in WA’s Winterbottom Stakes that followed victories in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley and Flemington’s VRC Sprint Classic.
His first-up record is a cracker too with six victories coming off a break from eight attempts, the other two producing a second in the Moir Stakes last September and a third to super star Black Caviar in the 2012 Lightning Stakes.
The Lightning Stakes, now called the Black Caviar Lightning in honour of the since retired triple champion, is then the race Buffering’s major rival comes off a win in ahead of Saturday’s clash.
Fresh off a three month spell Snitzerland held on in a good effort to defeat Shamexpress by half a length in the Group 1, 1000m sprint.
It was a well-deserved win and one her training knew she had in her after a number of close calls including her second to Pierro in the 2012 Golden Slipper as a juvenile.
While Buffering gets the good draw, Snitzerland and her hoop Brenton Avdulla have gate eight to overcome.
Outside the dominant duo in the Challenge Stakes odds there is one other single figure fancy with market mover Sessions into $5.
Drawn one inside of Snitzerland in barrier seven, the Peter Snowden-trained Lonhro stallion hasn’t raced since their disappointing 12th to Buffering in the VRC Sprint Classic on November 9 where they beat home just one other runner.
Before that however the four-year-old was in exciting form including their Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) victory at Randwick, where they’ll enjoy racing at again first-up in this, and their third when under a half length off Buffering in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).
Sessions also comes via some good trial form, most recently a two length win at Rosehill over 900m in 54.70 seconds from March 4.
For roughie backers and value punters there are then some quality types at juicy prices including Anthony Cummings’ Coolmore Stud Stakes fourth placed Villa Verde ($13), the Gai Waterhouse-trained Tale Of The Cat colt Whittington ($14) who won the Magic Millions Sprint at the Gold Coast in January and Jason Warren’s internationally-tried Group 1 winner Bel Sprinter ($14) who is out to improve on their first-up ninth to Lankan Rupee in the Oakleigh Plate last month.
See below for the full fixed win prices for the Challenge Stakes 2014, odds open online now at the country’s premier online betting agency Ladbrokes.com.au.
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