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Michael Hawkes has no qualms about Golden Slipper winner Esitjaab taking on Australia's best sprinter

Michael Hawkes has no qualms about Golden Slipper winner Esitjaab taking on Australia’s best sprinter in next Saturday’s Challenge Stakes at Randwick.

The filly will clash with two-time The Everest winner Redzel who is slated to make his autumn carnival return in the Group Two 1000-metre sprint.

“She’s taking on the big boys but you know what, she’s worthy of it,” Hawkes, who trains the filly in partnership with his father John and brother Wayne, said.

I’m not worried about them, I’m worried about her..

“She’s trialled super and her first run was outstanding. It’s just unfortunate it rained on the day and turned the race into a 1200, not an 1100 (metre event).”

Estijaab missed the spring after undergoing a throat operation but she showed she had returned in style with a fighting second to Fiesta in the Inglis Sprint at Warwick Farm on February 9.

The three-year-old has since won a barrier trial at Rosehill on Friday and Hawkes has been rapt with her work at home.

“She’s flying,” he said.

The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Redzel has been off the scene since he finished fifth in the Group One VRC Classic at Flemington in November.

He won his most recent trial and has an exceptional first-up record with four wins and three seconds from eight fresh runs.

He ran the closest of seconds to Redkirk Warrior in last year’s Lightning Stakes at Flemington before winning the Challenge.

 
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