Kerrin McEvoy’s chances of winning the Golden Slipper on Earthquake have taken a slight downturn with barrier 13 but the jockey is confident she has the talent to overcome it.
Injury robbed McEvoy of the filly’s first Group One win in the Blue Diamond Stakes in which Damian Browne proved an able substitute, steering her from gate 15 of 16.
The long-time favourite for Saturday’s $2.5 million Golden Slipper, Earthquake has eased from $2.10 to $2.30 with the TAB but Mossfun, second to Earthquake in the Reisling Stakes, remained the only other runner in single figures after Tuesday’s barrier draw.
Having been told barrier 13 was the only gate that had not produced a winner, McEvoy pointed out she would come in one position if the emergency Scratch Me Lucky does not get a start.
“Obviously she’s a classy filly,” McEvoy said.
“She has developed mentally and physically and has natural speed.
“I will have a split second to decide where to go once the barriers open but she is very versatile.”
Earthquake is one of three runners for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Australia along with Ghibellines and Memorial while Mossfun, to be ridden by James McDonald from barrier 11, expands the Dubai connection via her owner His Excellency Nasser Lootah.
The prominent Dubai businessman owns Emirates Park in the NSW Hunter Valley and has had racing interests in Australia for more than 25 years.
He bought two yearlings at Easter last year, one a $4 million colt which has yet to get to the races and Mossfun who cost $85,000 and has won three of her four starts, two in wet ground with rain predicted in the lead-up to the Slipper.
Nasser Lootah’s Australian manager Trevor Lobb said his boss would be flying in for the race.
“His Excellency has had a couple of runners in the race before but they were not as good as her,” Lobb said.
“He will be coming over for the race. It’s wonderful he has a horse with a real chance because he has invested a lot of money in Australian racing.
“She has had a great preparation and (trainer) John Hawkes has done a great job with her.”
The race is not just for the wealthy with proud trainer Gary Nickson looking forward to $6000 buy Alpha Miss taking her place.
It has cost her group of owners a $150,000 late entry fee for her to run but Nickson says she deserves her place.
The filly has paid her way in with three wins from five starts which have garnered more than $250,000 in prize money.
“She had a really good gallop yesterday,” Nickson said.
“We will be very happy if she runs in the first five and I think she will.”
Alpha Miss jumps from barrier nine and is a $26 chance.