Trainer John O’Shea has confirmed that Sidestep will make the trip to Perth to contest the 2014 Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot next weekend.
Sidestep finished his 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign with back-to-back wins in the Listed Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 29 and the Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 19.
The Exceed And Excel entire was set to return to Group 1 racing in the BTC Cup (1200m) at Doomben on May 10, but he was ruled out of the race with a joint issue and his slower than expected recovery from the issue meant that he missed the majority of the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
Sidestep made his long awaited return to racing in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday and was never able to get into the race before finishing eighth, but O’Shea told TVN that he believes the four-year-old’s performance was good enough to win the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).
“I think his run was sufficient for a Winterbottom Stakes in my opinion,” O’Shea said.
“It was more than acceptable and I believe being cluttered up between runners is not his go.
“James (McDonald) said he kept sucking out of scenarios and didn’t improve quick enough like a horse like Terravista.
“I was a little reluctant to use the head gear (blinkers) on him first-up in a race of that quality, so I have them up my sleeve and I think he will make good improvement with them on.”
Sidestep will be having his sixth race start at Group 1 level in the Winterbottom Stakes, but he is still chasing a maiden race win at the highest level of racing.
The Godolphin-owned entire made his Group 1 debut in the 2013 edition of the Golden Slipper and he finished second behind Overreach before he returned to the highest level of racing with a credible fourth in the Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).
Sidestep tired late to finish sixth in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival last year and finished a disappointing tenth in last year’s VRC Sprint Classic – his final start at Group 1 level for 12 months.
Leading hoop Nash Rawiller has been booked to partner Sidestep in the Winterbottom Stakes and he will be chasing his first win in the race after finishing third on Spirit Of Boom in 2012 and Electric General in 2006.
Sidestep is currently available at 2014 Winterbottom Stakes odds of $17, while Angelic Light ($3.80) remains a clear favourite from Moment Of Change ($6).