The world’s richest 2yo thoroughbred race, the Golden Slipper, will be run at Rosehill this Saturday with unbeaten Earthquake the ruling favourites at $2.30. That price eased a fraction have she drew barrier 13 at Tuesday’s barrier draw but a poor draw also in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes which she won earlier in the year, wasn’t enough to stop the Exceed And Excel filly. She’s won of three in the race for Darley who will be out to win their second Golden Slipper in four years after Sepoy saluted, also as favourite, in 2011. Gai Waterhouse and Mick Price are the other trainers with multiple entries. Waterhouse will be hoping either Valentia or Law can deliver her, her sixth Golden Slipper whilst Price will be represented by Jabali and Cornrow. Price had the 2012 Golden Slipper in Samaready who finished third to Waterhouse’s Pierro have she draw poorly in gate 11. His runners this year have drawn much more favourably with Jabali jumping from the inside gate, which has produced three of the last four winners, and Cornrow should be ideally suited from barrier 8.
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1. UNENCUMBERED – C Williams (14)
He won his sixth race from seven starts when he claimed the Magic Million 2yo Classic earlier this year before a break of two months and returning in the G2 Silver Slipper Stakes. The son of Testa Rossa was in need of that run and didn’t look totally comfortable on the slow rated track in finishing fifth (5 lengths) behind Mossfun. His final hit-out for the this race came a fortnight ago in the G2 Todman Slipper Stakes where, with a run under his belt and back on a firmer surface, he was backed into favouritism and started 9/4. He settled midfield in the running line and peeled out to make is run rounding the turn and joined the leaders at the furlong only to be bettered by Ghibellines on the line who enjoyed a sweet run along the fence. Connections will keep a close watch on the weather as they drier the track, the better he’ll perform and he deserves to ran well given his performances this season but from out in fourteen, would’ve wanted to see him attack the line stronger than he did last start.
2. JABALI – G Boss (1)
Mick Price’s Exceed And Excel colt has drawn the prized inside gate for Saturday’s race. Three of the past four winners of the Golden Slipper have jumped from barrier one and with the form this galloper has produced to date, he’d have to be rated a chance of enhancing the record. He ran second (1 length) to Rubrick in the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude before running second (1 ½ lengths) again, this time to Earthquake in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes. His two successors have been rated as the best of their generation and his performance behind them, where admittedly he did have every chance in each run, have been very good. His last start was his first in Sydney, a seventh (4.2 lengths) in the G2 Todman Stakes behind Ghibellines. He’ll be better for that experience and it was his first run in a month. With Boss, from the ideal draw, and on his performances in Melbourne earlier in the year, he’d have to be rated among the better hopes.
3. GHIBELLINES – J Bowman (2)
The half brother to Guelph made his debut with a fourth (2 ½ lengths) placing behind Law in the Listed Breeder’s Plate (1000m) back in October of last year before being spelled. The son of Shamardal returned three months later in the Canonbury Stakes (1100m) where on a slow track, he held his position in the run home behind the impressive Fighting Sun, finishing third (3 ½ lengths). With the run under his belt, three weeks later he ventured to Canberra for the Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m) and was sent out the 2/1 favourite. He settled midfield in the race and with the leader’s setting a solid tempo, a bit more was expected of him as short-priced favourite than the fifth (1.9 lengths) that he finished. His following and most recent start came in the G2 Todman Stakes a fortnight ago where he settled last in the field of ten but secured a lovely run, saving plenty of ground, closer to the fence as the field fanned entering the straight. He finished too well for Unencumbered, winning by 1 ¼ lengths. He is getting better with each start but from gate two, will not have the early speed to hold a position and need plenty of luck in the straight with the majority of the field in front of him as they turn.
4. VALENTIA – T Berry (5)
This son of Fastnet Rock is the first of two entrants for trainer Gai Waterhouse who will be out to secure her sixth victory in the race. After being outclassed by Rubrick on debut back in January (3rd, beaten 6 ¾ lengths), the Coolmore owned colt stepped out a month later to win a Open class 2yo race (1200m) at Randwick where he enjoyed a good run behind the speed. He took further improvement from that run when, at his following start, he claimed the G2 Skyline Stakes (1200m) by ½ a length from Mr. Bogart. He jumped well and sat behind a hot speed before ambling up to the leaders at the top of the straight. He didn’t pull away from the chasers but always had them covered in the run home. Should be able to find a nice position from gate five here and appears he’ll appreciate what should be a slick speed. Jockey won it last year and given the events of the past fortnight, a second victory will be an immensely emotional won.
5. CORNROW – D Oliver (8)
Yet to win a race for trainer Mick Price but has shown plenty in his five starts to suggest that registering his maiden victory in the Golden Slipper, is not beyond the realms of possibility. He draw poorly in the Blue Diamond Prelude and his effort to run fifth (2 ¾ lengths) to Rubrick was good. He backed that up by finishing better than most from midfield on the turn in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes to claim third, 1 ¾ lengths behind Earthquake and Jabali. Given a month off after that effort and had his first start the Sydney way of going in last fortnight’s G2 Todman Stakes (1200m). He settled three back on the fence in the field of ten. As the field straightened, he was held up for a run as the leaders could do no better and had to switch of their heels inside of the last furlong. Once clear and balanced, he finished well to run third behind Ghibellines (2.1 lengths). Will only be better for having had that experience at Rosehill and appears to have drawn perfectly in barrier 8, allowing him to settle midfield and be within striking distance on the turn. His Jockey won this race on Forensics back in 2007 and there’s a lot to like about his chances of winning his second with this horse.
6. LAW – T Clark (7)
Waterhouse’s second runner, this colt by Denman showed good speed to win the Listed Breeder’s Plate on debut back in October before being spelled. He returned with a comfortably 3 ¼ length win in an Open Class (1000m) race before, at his most recent start, lining up in the G2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m). Again he jumped straight to the front but was no match for eventual winner Mossfun who sat outside of him in the run and relished the soft track conditions. Law finished fourth (4.6 lengths). Will jump and take up a prominent position again and whilst a drier track will be more beneficial but hard to see him holding off the challengers over the final stages at this level.
7. MODOC – B Shinn (3)
Paul Perry’s Haradasun gelding has competed on five different tracks in two states from his six starts thus far. He won at Newcastle on debut and backed that up with an impressive 6 ½ length win at Scone before travelling to Victoria’s Mornington track for the lucrative Inglis Premier (1200m). On a day and a track that didn’t favour those coming from back in the field, his effort to run second (2 ¾ lengths) to Gold Force was a commendable one. He has been back in Sydney for his three runs since, the most recent of which saw him finish steadily from the tail of the field in last week’s G2 Pago Pago Stakes. He will not have the pace to take advantage of his inside draw and whilst he’ll be finishing his race off, hard to imagine him doing so well enough to be winning this race.
8. RISEN FROM DOUBT – B Rawiller (6)
After impressively winning his debut at Flemington in October, where he accounted for Jabali and Boomwaa by 2 ½ lengths in the Listed Maribyrnong Trial (1000m), the colt by Not A Single Doubt was immediately put away by his trainer Tony McEvoy with good races like this, firmly in mind. He resumed in the G2 Silver Slipper Stakes, landed in a nice spot in the run but wasn’t able to extend like the winner Mossfun when pressure was applied in the straight on the slow track. He stuck on ok to claim third (4 ¼ lengths). Three weeks later he lined up in the Todman Stakes where again he found a nice position in transit. His Jockey in that race Hugh Bowman had to shoulder his way out at the top of the straight for clear room but did so in plenty of time to finish better than the 3.4 lengths fifth behind Ghibellines that he did. Bowman, who has ridden him in both starts in Sydney, has now opted to ride his successor from last start Ghibellines. He needed to show more last start to be considered among the top hopes here.
9. EARTHQUAKE – K McEvoy (13)
This daughter of Exceed And Excel has been very impressive in each of her four unbeaten starts. After winning at Randwick easily on debut back in November, she was spelled and returned in the G3 Blue Diamond Prelude, where from on on-pace position, she extended away from Eloping at the furlong, winning by a comfortable 2 ¾ lengths. Off that effort she was installed the 15/8 favourite for the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes despite drawing the second to widest gate in the field of sixteen. She settled three wide with cover and when asked for her effort in the straight, again showed a very smart turn-of-foot to win easily by 1 ½ lengths from Jabali and Cornrow. Four weeks after that victory, she returned to Sydney where from the lead position, she held off all challengers in the G2 Reisling Stakes, defeating Mossfun by 1 ¼ lengths. It is impossible to fault her form. From behind the speed, on-pace or from the front, she’s performed well and has all the attributes required to account for the awkward draw. She will be very hard to beat.
10. MOSSFUN – J McDonald (11)
A Mossman filly race by Emirates Park Stud, she won her first three starts including the G3 Widden Stakes and G2 Silver Shadow Stakes where on each occasion, she relished the soft conditions of the track. Her fourth start and final hit-out for this race, came a fortnight ago in the G2 Reisling Stakes (1200m). As she had done previously, she began well from a wider gate and took a position outside of leader and race favourite Earthquake. Turning for home, the Team Hawkes trained galloper appeared to be travelling just as well as Earthquake but as the leader progressed through her gears, she was unable to match it with her over the final stages, finishing second, 1 ¼ length away. Earthquake is the benchmark for the race and this filly performed well against her last start. Any rain would increase her chances but on a dry track from an awkward gate for a horse that has always raced on or in the lead, it’s hard to see her turning the tables.
11. OAKLEIGH GIRL – C Newitt (10)
Impeccably bred filly from Danny Bougoure’s Queensland stable, this daughter of Snitzel won the G3 7news Stakes (1000m) up the Flemington Straight on debut back in November and followed that up almost six weeks later, with a length victory in the Listed Calaway Gal Stakes (1010m) in her home-state. She then went too hard in front when contesting the G3 B. J. McLachlan Stakes (1200m) at her following start and was no match for Unencumbered late, finishing fourth and two lengths away. She found Unencumbered too good when again when the met at their following start, the Magic Millions 2yo Classic but this time, with a much more sensible run in transit, only by ¾ length. She hasn’t raced since then but has had two searching trial in the past month, winning each firstly by 2 ½ lengths and then 5 lengths. Might be able to track something across from gate 10 and find a handy enough position but it will have to be some performance by both horse and trainer to win this race at first her first run for three months.
12. ELOPING – S Baster (15)
A speedy daughter of Choisir who will no doubt, shoot straight across from her poor draw. After winning her first two starts in impressive style, including the G3 Blue Diamond Preview (1000m), she lined up in the Prelude edition of the Blue Diamond series as an 11/2 chance. Showing her good gate speed she led but was unable to match it over the final furlong with eventual winner Earthquake, who had sat outside of her in the run, finishing second and 2 ¾ lengths away. She had a month off after that effort and returned on hot day at Flemington, to contest the Listed Sports 1000. She had sweated up noticeably prior to the race and it was no surprise to see her weaken late to finish fourth (2 lengths) behind Bring The Maid, last week’s impressive winner of the Magic Night Stakes. Her final hit-out was an unorthodox one from a Slipper perspective but a lucrative one for connections. She won the Bendigo Gold Rush (1000m) by six lengths, defeating Jarklin and picking up $150k winner’s cheque in the process. Will be on the pace as they turn but she has only been beyond 1000m once and was easily accounted for by Earthquake on that occasion.
13. ALPHA MISS – J Collett (9)
Purchased by Graham Daley of Hazelwood Stud for $6k as a weanling, Alpha Miss is the fairytale story of the Slipper. She’s won three of her five starts and already amassed $240k for her connections, a large portion of which was won two starts ago when she took out the Listed Lonhro Plate at Warwick Farm. From an inside draw she snuck up behind the leaders approaching the turn and when they fanned upon straightening, had plenty of room to finish well, recording a neck win over Memorial and Aerobar. Her most recent start was a typically honest effort in the G2 Reisling Stakes (1200m). The Gary Nickson trained runner was caught wide and midfield in the run but never gave up in the run home, finishing a commendable third to Earthquake, beaten 1 ¾ lengths. Should be able to get some sort of run from her gate and whilst she might not quite have the class, she certainly appears to have plenty of heart. Would love to see her run well.
14. BRING ME THE MAID – C Schofield (5)
Peter Moody’s first runner in the Slipper since Reward For Effort contested the 2009 edition, and he has a live chance to win his first Golden Slipper. The Sebring filly showed good signs winning on debut, not baulking when involved in a tight three way photo in the Listed Sports 1000 Stakes at Flemington. She then got back and not all went to plan in the run around the tight Moonee Valley circuit when, as the 7/4 favourite, she finished third (2.1 lengths) behind London Lolly. She travelled to Sydney for her next and most recent start, the G2 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) of last week, where she appreciated the spaces of a bigger track and a solid tempo up front. From near last on the turn, she wound up in impressive style down the centre of the track to better Peggy Jean by a neck on the line. She was a little slow away in the Magic Night and from gate five on Saturday, a similar start could see her awkwardly placed however, her last start was impressive and no jockey is riding in better form at the moment than Schofield. All she’ll need is her chance in the run to make her presence felt and at $13.00 in betting; it’s worth have a flutter that she’ll get it.
15. MEMORIAL – C Reith (17)
The very well bred Street Cry filly won her first two starts back in November of last year, in the most impressive style, recording margins of 2 ¼ and 3 ¾ – both in Open class. She was put away by her trainer Peter Snowden and returned in the Listed Lonhro Plate at Warwick Farm. A chequered run home in the straight wasn’t ideal and she finished a neck second to Alpha Miss. Her only start since was in the G2 Reisling Stakes a fortnight ago. From the inside gate, she settled back in the field on the fence and stayed there as they rounded the home turn. With the field fanning, she had plenty of room to make her run and was disappointing late, finishing last of nine and 4.4 lengths from winner and stable-mate Earthquake. It is impossible to see her improving off of that run and doing so from the widest gate.
16. BELIEVE YOURSELF – B Avdulla (16)
Unbeaten in two starts is Gerald Ryan’s Sebring filly. She won an average Kembla Grange maiden back in mid-December before returning in the much more prestigious, G2 Sweet Embrace Stakes. Obviously has shown good improvement over the break as she was supported in better (12/1 into 10/1) and from the tail of the field, finished well to record a narrow win over Twirl. Can only be better again and whilst there are more good races ahead of her, would not think the Slipper – especially from her draw – would be one of them.
17. SCRATCH ME LUCKY – G Schofield (12) (1st EM)
Paul Perry trains this Snitzel colt who, from six starts, has won win and a second placing to his name. After winning a restricted mid-week race at Canterbury on a slow track two starts ago, he then lined up in last fortnight’s Todman Stakes (1200m) as a 30/1 chance. From the widest gate he settled at the tail of the field and failed to make an impression from there in the run home, finishing sixth (3 ¾ lengths) behind Ghibellines. Should he manage to get a start, cannot see him winning on his recent efforts.
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Speed will be very strong with Eloping, Law, Oakleigh Girl and Mossfun, all draw worse than barrier ten, looking to take up a forward position. Earthquake will jump from gate thirteen but should be able to tag this group forward. She’s the won to beat. She has a turn of foot, is undefeated and her preparation into this race is reminiscent – and better, than that 2011’s winner Sepoy Like Price’s pair of Jabali and Cornrow, who coincidentally filled the places behind Earthquake in the Blue Diamond, as the next best options in the race. Both should enjoy a solid tempo and have drawn much better than some of their competitors. Good jockey’s aboard both and all that is required, as in any Slipper, is that little bit of luck. Should that came, they’ll be both be finishing hard and Price may be able to go a touch better than when Samaready ran third in this race as the favourite two years ago. Bring The Maid was impressive last start and will have to be again as the last filly able to win the Slipper off a Magic Night Stakes win was Bint Marscay in 1993. But she is very promising.
4. BRING THE MAID