While sharing the same Randwick race card on Saturday with two major Group 1 races, the 2014 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) is shaping as one of the most highly-anticipated events of the day, offering punters several generous opportunities to place a winning bet.
Having closed his 2013 spring with three consecutive wins at Group 1 level, talented gelding Buffering is currently featuring as the outright $2.90 favourite for 2014 Challenge Stakes success ahead of Snitzerland ($3.10), Sessions ($5) and a tie on the fourth line of betting between Bel Sprinter and Whittington, each currently offered at odds of $14.
Can Buffering beat a strong field first-up this weekend, or will one of his nine talented opponents finishing the Challenge Stakes in the clear?
Snitzerland has returned to the track in near-career best form in 2014, claiming her maiden Group 1 title in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) first-up on February 15th. Trainer Gerald Ryan was happy to draw barrier 8 for this weekend’s Group 2, and believes the talented Snitzel mare will receive the run of the race sitting just outside fellow frontrunner Sessions.
Buffering was arguably the best sprinter over the spring of 2013, following up a competitive second behind talented mare Samaready in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) first-up with his three consecutive Group 1 titles. The exciting Mossman gelding was arguably the biggest winner at Wednesday’s Challenge Stakes barrier draw, having been allocated the ideal gate 3 for his first-up tilt for 2014. Regular jockey Damien Browne has been confirmed for the ride on Buffering this weekend, and will be tough to beat if in good position rounding the bend.
Bel Sprinter ($14)
Classy six-year-old Bel Sprinter was one of the most consistent performers of the 2013 autumn, claiming the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) first up before finishing third behind equine superstar Black Caviar in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) and ending his memorable preparation second in the Group 1 Krisflyer International Sprint 2013 (1200m) abroad in Singapore. While unable to figure in the dying stages of the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) first-up on February 22nd, trainer Jason Warren is confident of success this weekend with in-form jockey Craig Newitt on board.
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