Veteran Redzel puts Everest rivals on red alert
THIS was the Redzel of old - fast, brave and determined.
The gelding silenced the doubters who felt the gelding was past his prime, scorching over the Royal Randwick 1000m course to win his third successive Group 3 $160,000 Concorde Stakes on Saturday.
The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Redzel proved he was still one of the nation's elite short-course sprinters, getting within touching distance of an extraordinary three-peat in the $14 million The Everest (1200m) next month.
But the Redzel camp aren't the only ones dreaming of reaching the Everest summit. The first-up efforts of runner-up Pierata and minor place-getter Graff were also encouraging returns.
Redzel used the Concorde to launch his successful The Everest's wins in 2017 and 2018. His winning time on Saturday of 56.28s compares favourably to the 56.23s in his first Concorde win and the 56.19s he recorded last year.
"We know he's back,'' trainer Peter Snowden said.
"It was good to see him run so well. I felt before the race he didn't have to win but we wanted to see that intent from him, the good gate speed and fighting hard at the finish.
"His work has been great and he has been moving freely so we were quietly confident he would run well. I said to Kerrin this is only 1000m, this is his go so let him run. He's run 56s and change so they weren't mucking around.
"But we are a long way off where we want to be with this horse. Now it is a matter of getting him fit and screwing him down for the big day.''
Redzel ($7) led throughout and held off the fast-finishing Pierata ($8) to win by a long head with the unlucky Graff ($9.50) only three-quarters of a length away third.
There was less than five lengths between first and last in the six-horse field, with Nature Strip (fourth) beating himself by over-racing. Sunlight will be improved with the run and the previously unbeaten Zoustyle wasn't disgraced, running 57.07s but still finishing last.
McEvoy, Redzel's regular rider, warned the seven-year-old speedster would only get better with racing this spring.
"He had his doubters after the autumn but it is great to see him come back and do that first-up,'' McEvoy said.
"He's making this little race his own, that's his third one. There's a lot of time between now and the Everest and there is plenty of improvement in him, so really looking forward to seeing how he progresses."
Redzel was so impressive he firmed from into $7 in second favouritism with Ladbrokes, behind Pierata and Santa Ana Lane (both $6) for The Everest on October 19.
Pierata settled last in the small field then unleashed a tremendous late surge to claim second, recording a scarcely believable 31.61s for the final 600m sectional.
"You've just got to watch the race to see how well he went,'' Pierata's jockey Tommy Berry said.
"He's come back in much better order this preparation, we've been saying he's bigger, he's stronger, he's better. I think that showed it today. He's on the right track and very excited about the rest of his spring."
Graff's trainer Kris Lees said his sprinter would go to The Shorts in two weeks to press his claims for an Everest slot.
"He didn't have a lot of room in the straight, there as a bit of buffeting,'' Lees said.
"When he did get out he dashed the probably levelled out the last 50m but he has come back as good as we though he had.
"He will go to The Shorts in two weeks and In Her Time will probably go there, too.''
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