Doubts about Redzel being up to another Everest campaign have been dispelled in less than a minute at Randwick.
With punters shying away from Redzel in Saturday’s Group Thee Concorde Stakes (1000m) and letting him go at $7, Nature Strip was sent out the $2.30 favourite to stake his claims for a slot in next month’s $14 million Everest.
But just like he has in the two runnings of The Everest, Redzel has been there and done that and had the Concorde by the scruff of the neck from the outset, running 56.28sec with his last 600m in 32.567s.
He won the sprint for the third time by a long head from the fast-finishing Pierata, another punters’ reject at $8.
Graff ($9.50) was another three-quarters of a length third after being cramped for room with Nature Strip fourth after showing a return to his erratic ways despite remedial training to try to help him settle.
The second and third favourites, Sunlight ($5.50) and Zoustyle ($6) rounded out the six-horse field.
Redzel’s jockey Kerrin McEvoy has not yet decided whether he rides Redzel in an attempt at a third Everest with Classique Legend waiting in the wings but was thrilled with the Concorde performance.
“It’s great to see him back. He had his doubters after last preparation,” McEvoy said.
“Last prep a few things went wrong. He went to Queensland after the TJ Smith and nothing went right that day either. He got beaten fair and square.
“Peter and Paul (Snowden) put him away and started again.
There’s every chance that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with through this preparation.”
Co-trainer Paul Snowden admitted it was a relief to have Redzel back after his lacklustre autumn.
“You can’t hide the excitement we have in the morning on how he’s going,” he said.
“We have a goal and we have to get there. We have a lot of respect for the other runners. It only gets harder from now on.
“It’s all about getting back to where we were. I feel that we’ve got him there.”
Pierata’s trainer Greg Hickman and jockey Tommy Berry were both thrilled with his performance.
“That’s his first time over 1000 metres so it’s not too bad,” Hickman said.
“He’s flying. It’s the best he’s ever been this horse.”
Berry was just as enthusiastic.
“We’ve been saying he’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s better,” he said.
“I’m very excited about the rest of his spring.”
Sunlight’s trainer Tony McEvoy is keeping faith with the triple Group One-winning mare.
“It was a little below what I was hoping for,” McEvoy said.
“She just got on her wrong leg and blew out.
“But I’m very relaxed about her. I just ask people not to judge her on today.”
Her jockey Luke Currie said he brought Sunlight back so as not to be wide, but she was chasing from a long way out.
“She’d had enough late but we knew she would fitness-wise.”