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It is the flag-bearer of Sydney racing and one of most significant races on the Australian turf calender.

The Golden Slipper Stakes carries prizemoney of $3.5 million and invariably attracts the best two-year-old horses in Australia who are inevitably trained by the nation’s best trainers.

Equally inevitable in a race whose winner could end up with a eight-figure valuation, is the illustrious list of owners represented in the 1200m dash around Rosehill racecourse.

The 17 entrants in this year’s Slipper are owned by a group that include an Arab sheikh, a “Chicken King”, a Cups King, a beer baron, Malaysian nobility and a one-time potato peeler who struck it rich in the nickel boom.

For none of them will success on Saturday be a stranger.

Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, who owns the favourite Sepoy and the longshot Altar, is probably the world’s most prolific racehorse owner.

The ruler of Dubai has won almost every major race in the world, has stables in Australia, England, the United States, France and Dubai and owns with his brothers the spectacularly successful Godolphin racing operation.

Bart Cummings, the 83-year-old legend of Australian racing, has three entries as a trainer and one, Empress Rock, will race in his green and gold colours.

Cummings also trains Empress Rock and Do You Think who are part-owned by Dato Tan Chin Nam, a Malaysian banker almost as well-known in Australian racing as his trainer.

The Dato has won two Melbourne Cups, three Cox Plates and last year sold a half share of his most recent champion, So You Think, to Irish interests for $30 million.

Another stalwart of Australian racing, Bob Ingham, is represented by Fast And Sexy.

Ingham and his late brother Jack became known as “The Chicken Kings” after establishing an empire through chicken farming.

Another self-made racing success story is Keith Biggs whose pink and blue colours will be carried aboard Elite Falls.

Biggs peeled potatoes in pubs in the West Australian goldfields, he became a butcher and then hit the big time in the 1960s nickel boom when he invested in the mining company Poseidon whose shares went from 80 cents to $282 – and back.

As intriguing as any of them, and more of an enigma than most, is the man who owns second favourite Smart Missile and the outsider Shared Reflections.

Eduardo Cojuangco is the chairman of the San Miguel corporation, one of the biggest beverage companies in the world.

Cojuangco was a close friend and adviser of Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and was himself a candidate for that country’s presidency in 1992, losing to Fidel Ramos.

He is also a cousin of another Philippine president, Corazon Aquino.

Cojuangco, a major supporter of Australian racing for 30 years, owns the Gooree Stud at Mudgee in NSW.

Among his greatest racing successes has been the victory of Manila in the 1986 Breeders Cup Turf in the United States along with AJC Derby winner Don Eduardo and the high-class multiple Group One winner Desert War.

But such is the glorious uncertainty of racing that who owns the horses amounts to very little when the gates spring open on Saturday afternoon.


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