Redkirk Warrior has already won a Newmarket Handicap first-up from a spell and will attempt to do the same in the Lightning Stakes.
The seven-year-old gelding is one of two Lindsay Park-trained sprinters in Saturday’s Group One Lightning (1000m) at Flemington after the stable also decided to run Formality.
Redkirk Warrior became the first horse in a century to win a Newmarket Handicap (1200m) first-up last year while last campaign he won the Group Two Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) first-up on the straight course at Flemington.
“He has a great first-up record and we’ve put him in blinkers which he wore in a recent jump-out at Flemington and was really good,” co-trainer Tom Dabernig said.
“I think he’s in similar form to when he won the Newmarket.
“He’s a funny horse. If he’s in his best form clearly he’s got the ability to win it, but you’ve got to respect Redzel and what he has done.
“His form is amazing so you’d have to be going in there thinking he’ll be hard to beat. But outside of that I think he’s going as well as ever.
“It should be an intriguing race.”
Dabernig said Redkirk Warrior had enjoyed a smooth campaign leading into his return after being unplaced in The Everest and Darley Classic at his final two starts last spring, won by Redzel.
“If you really got picky you probably could say he might be a bit vulnerable at the 1000 metres, but when he won the Newmarket he was well clear with 200 metres to go,” Dabernig said.
“We think he’s going great.”
Redzel was the $1.75 favourite on Wednesday in the field of 10 as he bids to extend his current winning sequence to seven.
Hey Doc was at $8 ahead of defending champion Terravista ($9) while Redkirk Warrior and Formality were at $10.
The stable opted for the Lightning over next week’s Oakleigh Plate for Formality’s return.
“She was good when she ran third in the Coolmore Stud Stakes down the straight and in two weeks there’s a Group One 1400-metre race for fillies in Sydney,” Dabernig said.
“We were originally thinking possibly the Oakleigh Plate but we thought this gives her a shot at two Group Ones and she seems in great order.
“The Lightning is a tough ask but she’s a proven Group horse and we think she’s a Group One horse, so we’ll give her an opportunity.”