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James McDonald has labelled Stay Inside as a genuine Golden Slipper threat but stopped short of committing to stick with him in the $3.5 million feature.

Having his first race ride on the Michael and Richard Freedman-trained juvenile in Saturday’s Pierro Plate (1100m) at Randwick, McDonald did little but sit and steer.

The colt found a perfect trail behind the speed before unleashing a blistering turn of foot to gap his rivals by four lengths in a performance that moved McDonald to rank him among the best Sydney two-year-olds.

“He is close to the top there,” McDonald said.

“I just love his attitude. He takes everything in his stride, the ultimate professional.

“He’ll get to a Slipper whether it is wet or dry and be very hard to beat.”

Despite his enthusiasm, McDonald, who has also ridden leading Golden Slipper hopes Shaquero and Enthaar to Sydney wins, would not be drawn on committing to Stay Inside for next month’s juvenile showpiece.

“I just want to have another ride on him again,” he said.

Co-trainer Michael Freedman was hoping to see a dominant performance by the youngster to confirm they had a genuine Slipper contender and he was content with what was delivered on Saturday.

But he is under no illusions that Stay Inside needs to raise the bar even higher.

“To keep the dream alive he probably had to come out and, not only win today, but win well in my view because he is going to have to go to the next level again in two or three weeks time,” Freedman said.

“The other nice thing is it looks like he handles a wet track so that gives us a few options as well.”

The Group Two Todman Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on March 6 is shaping as the next stepping stone for Stay Inside as he heads towards the Golden Slipper on March 20.

 
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