Golden Slipper week is always tense, but John O’Shea admits it’s even more so for him this year.
O’Shea has gone close to winning a Golden Slipper, when Charge Forward was second in a stellar 2004 edition, but on Saturday he will saddle up two genuine winning chances, Foxwedge and Elite Falls, in the $3.5 million showpiece at Rosehill.
“It’s probably been more tense this year than previous years because there’s a level of optimism there,” O’Shea said.
“And I’m probably sick of being just a participant in the Slipper – I really want to win it.”
Impressive colt Foxwedge heads into the race with two wins from three starts and has the addition of blinkers which O’Shea has been saving for grand final day.
Foxwedge finished third in the Todman Stakes two weeks ago behind Smart Missile and Sepoy.
O’Shea expects blinkers to improve the son of Fastnet Rock “significantly” in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.
He will be joined by stablemate Elite Falls who has continued to step up in the Slipper lead-ups and stamped her credentials with victory in the Reisling Stakes two weeks ago.
O’Shea is confident the two juveniles have been given the perfect preparation to produce peak performances on Saturday.
“We’ve had a great preparation,” he said.
“I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve done with them, so everything is on track for Saturday.”
Foxwedge will start from barrier 10 should first emergency Do You Think not gain a start while Elite Falls is wider and likely to jump from 15.
O’Shea found it hard to split the pair.
“There’s nothing between my two on the track,” he said.
“Then you’ve got to assess their chances in terms of their form. Maybe the colts look to have a bit on the fillies but my filly (Elite Falls) hasn’t been at her top at any stage yet.
“She is at her top this weekend, and she hasn’t been in a fast-run race yet. She’s going to get a fast-run race on Saturday, so we’re going there thinking she’s going to get a lot of things she likes on Saturday.”
The Golden Slipper is among the “Grand Slam” of Australian racing, comprising the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Golden Slipper.
Being a Sydney-based trainer, the Slipper is the race O’Shea would dearly love to win.
“It’s one of the top four, the other three are in Melbourne,” O’Shea said.
“Probably the Doncaster is the other one, if you had to pick five races that are the pinnacle of Australian racing, they’re the five. I’ve won a couple of them (Doncasters), but a Slipper would be fantastic.”