Trainer John O’Shea has confirmed Godolphin’s 2014 Winterbottom Stakes hopeful Sidestep will have the blinkers on for Saturday’s sprint showdown at Ascot Racecourse in Perth.
The Exceed And Excel stallion is one of a likely 13-horse field for the $750,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) on Railway Stakes Day in Western Australia this weekend.
Winner of the Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) when prepared by Peter Snowden in Sydney back in April, $1.34 million earner Sidestep has had just the one run for new trainer O’Shea.
That was a first-up effort off a length seven month spell at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m)
Straight into Group 1 company, which the galloper is yet to win in, Sidestep never looked a winning chance despite trying hard when four lengths away eighth behind the winner Terravista in the Melbourne Cup Carnival showdown.
Now it’s over to WA for another Group 1 run over the same distance, this time with the blinkers on in an attempt to sharpen him up after he didn’t wear any headgear without luck in the Darley Classic.
“That wasn’t that bad of a run and he hit the line really well,” O’Shea told The Standard.
“This race was always there and I think the blinkers will really help him. They will just sharpen him up.”
The first time Sidestep donned the blinkers, which he is yet to win wearing, was for a nice second behind Overreach in the 2013 Golden Slipper.
He also had them on when a brave fourth behind Zoustar (1st), Dissident (2nd) and Bull Point (3rd) in Sydney’s Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) last September.
Sidestep, who will be ridden by Nash Rawiller in the Winterbottom, arrived in Perth on Friday along with Railway Stakes hopefuls The Cleaner and Smokin’ Joey.
He gets an early look at Ascot with the blinkers on Tuesday morning at ‘The Breakfast With the Stars’ having settled into his new surroundings without issue.
“He has settled in better over in Perth than he did in Melbourne, which is encouraging,” O’Shea said.
“The gallop on Tuesday will top him and there was always going to be natural improvement from that first-up run.
“It is a nice option at this time of year to have a group 1 for him to run in.”
In the latest pre-field Winterbottom Stakes odds Sidestep pays around $7.50 to win in markets led by Robbie Griffiths’ Manikato Stakes runner-up Angelic Light ($3.30) – the mare to be ridden by Damien Oliver.
In other Winterbottom Stakes news Perth trainer Steve Wolfe will accept for Shovhog six-year-old Tiger Pete but stable-mate Kalahaar will be running in the $100,000 Listed Carbine Club of WA Stakes (1400m) at the meeting instead.
Steven Arnold has also picked up a ride in the sprint classic aboard the Mark Kavanagh-trained Waterman’s Bay.
The 2014 Winterbottom Stakes field is out at midday local time this afternoon, the likely 13 runners to include five Eastern state raiders.
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