Last start winner Sidestep will wear winkers when he lines up in the Group 2 $500,000 Arrowfield Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday, the second day of ‘The Championships’.
Sidestep’s second win came twelve months after his first with a narrow victory over Bound For Earth in the Listed $125,000 Randwick Equine Centre Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 29.
The Exceed And Excel colt has given trainer Peter Snowden a frustrating time over the last year after he showed so much potential as a two year old.
Sidestep went into last year’s Golden Slipper a genuine chance after winning the Group 2 $175,000 Bowermans Office Furniture Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill, one of the major lead ups to the richest two year old race in the world.
And Sidestep ran the race of his life to run second to Overreach in the Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill the following week.
But Snowden has been struggling to get Sidestep to regain that two year old form until this preparation when the colt was narrowly beaten first up by Shamalia in the Listed $125,000 Xirrus Fireball Stakes (1100m) at Randwick on March 15.
Darley’s number one rider Kerrin McEvoy had to work hard to get Sidestep back into the winner’s stall in the Darby Munro Stakes after the three year old was inclined to lay in on the runner up Bound For Earth over the concluding stages.
McEvoy suggested to connections that the addition of winkers to his gear could help him concentrate better and Snowden took the advice.
“I wanted to be closer in the run but he’s the sort of horse you can’t kick, you just let him get cover,” McEvoy said after his win in the Darby Munro Stakes.
“He had a bit of a look in the straight and wanted to lay in on the second horse so some head gear might help him.”
Sidestep has drawn well at barrier five in the Royal Sovereign Stakes while stable mate Safeguard will jump from gate ten in the twelve horse field.
The Kris Lees trained Thump is dropping back to three year old class after finishing eighth to Spirit Of Boom in the Group 1 $400,000 Hacer Group William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on March 21 and will jump from gate seven with Jim Cassidy to ride.
Kiwi filly Bounding has outstanding form in New Zealand with five wins from her last six starts but has been given the visitor’s draw and will jump from the outside barrier with Mark Du Plessis on board for her Australian debut.
Bounding was sent for a spell after beating the older horses in the Group 1 NZ$200,000 Sistema Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 1 and then resumed for a win in the Group 3 NZ$70,000 Magnum-NZTBA Mr Tiz Trophy (1200m) at Ellerslie on March 8.
Team Hawkes will saddle up two runners in the Royal Sovereign Stakes with Chautauqua drawing gate nine and Turquoise King coming up with gate eight.
Ladbrokes.com.au has installed Sidestep a narrow favourite for the Royal Sovereign Stakes at $4.20 just ahead of Chautauqua ($4.50) who was runner-up to In Cahoots in the Listed $250,000 De Bortoli Wines Gosford Guineas (1200m) at Gosford on April 6.
Safeguard and Bounding share the next line of betting at $8 with Thump at $9 and Turquoise King, Havana and Shamalia all at $13.