Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sidestep's on the straight and narrow


On the rise: Sidestep wins for Kerrin McEvoy at Rosehill last weekend. McEvoy is sticking with the colt for the Golden Slipper on Saturday. Photo: Jenny Evans

The unknown factor of blinkers on Darley's problem child Sidestep could provide the inspiration for Golden Slipper victory at Rosehill on Saturday.

It will be the third consecutive week Sidestep has raced at Rosehill after he dropped Corey Brown soon after the barriers opened in the Todman Stakes last Saturday week before earning his place in the Slipper by winning the Pago Pago Stakes last Saturday.

''He is a tough little horse that has handled it really well,'' trainer Peter Snowden said. ''It is not the ideal preparation but he is there.

''Everyone could see what happened the other day: he just lost interest coming to the corner. He went from one to 1½ lengths from the leader to three [lengths] from him. I know the leader kicked [on the turn] but he just went left and right and floated.


''He knuckled down and won [last Saturday], but in the Slipper you can't afford to do anything wrong. We had the winkers on him at Canberra [when runner-up to Criterion in the Black Opal] and tossed up whether to use them or the blinkers and decided on the blinkers.''

Sidestep's half-brothers, group 2 winner Ambidexter and Champagne Stakes winner Skilled, both raced in headgear. ''It is about making sure he is on the job,'' Snowden said. Sidestep has firmed to $10 second favourite, behind Overreach, the solid $2.30 favourite, after drawing barrier five.

Kerrin McEvoy elected to ride him ahead of Guelph and Kuroshio, Darley's other two Slipper runners. ''The team swayed me that way to go with Sidestep because he has that improvement left in him,'' McEvoy said. ''Guelph is a really nice filly. If this rain stays around it will only enhance her chances. She trialled really well the other day.''

Snowden believes Guelph is the forgotten horse of the Slipper.

''You have to remember she started second favourite in the Blue Diamond and got there for a reason,'' he said. ''She had one bad run and everyone is dismissing her. She has been here for five weeks and is ready to run a great race.''

McEvoy rode Sidestep in blinkers on Tuesday and was impressed by how he handled them.

''We are quietly confident they will [be the answer for him],'' McEvoy said. ''He has cantered away with them this week and they haven't fazed him. He was happy enough to do everything right.

''They really made him focus up and go forward. He never stepped a foot wrong the whole time I was on his back on Tuesday. That's a good sign. We are hopeful they get him to travel [well] a bit and get him to show a more instant turn of foot.'''s Glenn Munsie said punters rallied behind Overreach and Gai Waterhouse's other filly Sweet Idea on Wednesday.

''Overreach is a solid favourite at $2.30 and we have double the money for it of any other runner,'' Munsie said. ''Sweet Idea is the only firmer in betting, from $15 to $13, and she and Sidestep are the two punters are singling out as dangers to the favourite.''
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