Despite featuring on the same Randwick race card as two major Group 1 events this weekend, the 2014 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) arguably features the day’s most talented final field, with several previous winners at the top level of Australian racing confirmed to line up.
Following his incredible end to 2013, talented six-year-old Buffering has secured outright favouritism for the 2014 Challenge Stakes, currently featuring at odds of $2.90 ahead of Snitzerland ($3.10), Sessions ($5) and tie between Bel Sprinter and Whittington, sharing the fourth line of betting at $14.
Will Buffering pick up where he left off in 2013 and claim the 2014 Challenge Stakes, or can one of his classy opponents finish in the clear?
Unable to claim a Group 1 title throughout an impressive and consistent 2013, exciting mare Snitzerland broke through for her maiden win at racing’s peak level in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m) first-up on February 15th, ahead of a particularly talented field of sprinters. Despite drawing the slightly wide barrier 8 for this weekend’s Challenge Stakes, her proven form over the distance should a long way against a largely un-trialled field in 2014.
Bel Sprinter ($14)
Bel Sprinter was one of the stand-out performers of the 2013 autumn, claiming the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) first-up before finishing third behind equine superstar Black Caviar in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) and ending his memorable preparation second behind Lucky Nine in the Group 2 Krisflyer International Sprint 2013 (1200m) in Singapore. Despite being unable to figure in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) first-up on February 22nd, trainer Jason Warren is confident his stable’s star will figure in good position in the Challenge Stakes’ dying stages.
Having amassed five wins and four places from only 11 race starts to date, Peter Snowden-trained Sessions will jump from barrier 7 in this weekend’s Challenge Stakes and will be partnered by leading jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who returns to the saddle of the exciting Lonhro entire for the first time since a competitive third in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on October 25th. Yet to contest an event in 2014, Snowden believes Sessions will receive the ride of the race, settling just inside Snitzerland before moving in the final straight.
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