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Golden Slipper Preview – Sama Looks Ready To Back

April 7, 2012

The eyes of the racing world will be on Rosehill this Saturday for the running of the 56th AAMI Golden Slipper (1200m), the world’s richest race for juveniles.

The helter skelter of the Golden Slipper is notorious – sixteen precocious two year olds battling it out around a hairpin track in the western suburbs of Sydney. Luck in running is key.

There have been some famous stories over the years. Who could forget Belle du Jour’s incredible win in 2000 after bungling the start hopelessly? Or perhaps you think of Crystal Lily in 2009, who ran right off the track but was still too good?

Perhaps your mind drifts back to Merlene in 1996, where Greg Hall thought he was in a bumper car? Or the year before, when Flying Spur won for last minute replacement jockey Glen Boss?

Or maybe you go back even further – to horses like Todman, Sky High, Vain, Baguette and Manikato?

From more than 2000 entries in July last year, just 16 remain in the running for the second richest prize on the Australian racing calendar.

So who will win? Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins has analysed this year’s Golden Slipper field and provided his thoughts about each runner.

Here is his preview of the 2012 Golden Slipper:

1. PIERRO (1) 1×11

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse

Jockey: Nash Rawiller

The unbeaten Sydney colt. Gai Waterhouse declared, after the second two year old race of the year last year (the Breeders Plate on October 1), that we had seen the Golden Slipper winner that day. She was referring to Pierro, a son of Lonhro who has shown his professionalism at his three starts to date. The first was in that Breeders Plate, when he won narrowly but impressively. He showed a good turn of foot to win the Silver Slipper, while he showed tenacity in fighting back to nail Epaulette in the Todman Stakes. On form, I’d say Samaready rates ahead of him – taking a line through horses like Rusambo and Hussousa. I’m also not sure about the Todman Stakes as a form race this year. However, he’s still improving and Gai knows how to have them ready. He’s in with a chance.

2. EPAULETTE (4) 1×12

Trainer: Peter Snowden

Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy

Well bred son of Commands – he’s a full brother to Champagne Stakes winner Skilled and a half brother to three time Group 1 winner Helmet. I remember being at Rosehill the day he won on debut – it was Boxing Day, feels like an age ago! It was a good win too. He returned at Canberra in the Black Opal Stakes where he managed to hold of Faustus, before a  great effort last start in the Todman where he raced past Pierro. He looked set to win but Pierro fought back. There are a couple of queries for me – I’m not sure of the form out of his last two runs, while I do wonder whether he may be looking for further now. He’s a chance, but I’m on others.

3. RACEWAY (9) 112

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse

Jockey: Hugh Bowman

One time Golden Slipper favourite. He found the line alright in the Skyline Stakes when he finished second to Ashokan. Prior to that, he had demoralised his opposition on debut when winning his debut at Warwick Farm before winning – less impressively than expected – in the Canonbury Stakes. He looked like he needed the run last start and I think it will have brought him on greatly for his grand final here. If he runs up to his debut, expect him to be a major player here. Honestly, I’m not sure how he’ll go, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him win.

4. AMORINO (2) 1x16x4

Trainer: Gerald Ryan

Jockey: Steven Arnold

Ah, Amorino. I was really quite keen on him last start. In fact, I was really keen! But he was the first beaten in the Todman Stakes, and I was really disappointed. It was a similar story to the Magic Millions Classic, where he started favourite – although he sat midfield at the Gold Coast, there just wasn’t anything left in the tank when the button was pressed. It’s a completely different story to his first two runs, where he showed a fair bit of ticker. In particular, his second run – where he contributed to a hot pace and still managed to come on and win – was very good. But he hasn’t been the same horse since. Will we see the real Amorino in the Golden Slipper? Who knows. But I know that I won’t be backing him. Not for me.

5. FAUSTUS (13) 1×25

Trainer: John O’Shea

Jockey: Jim Cassidy

This very good looking animal has promised a lot but he hasn’t really delivered. He looked good on debut beating Kuchinskaya last November, while he was alright at his return from a spell behind Epaulette in the Black Opal Stakes. But he was dismal in my opinion in the Todman Stakes. He probably wants to be ridden closer to the speed, which should happen here. But still, on that effort, how could you possibly back him? You’d have to very brave to go out on a limb and have him here. It’d be a shock if he won.

6. ASHOKAN (14) 21

Trainer: John O’Shea

Jockey: James McDonald

The new kid on the block! He was wayward and green on debut behind Dear Demi, but still ran a powerful second when closing in late. And then, in the Skyline, he raced keenly on the speed but managed to hold off one time Slipper favourite Raceway pretty easily. He needs to learn to relax and he needs to put it all together, especially given the wide barrier. I think he definitely has potential and I think he may emerge as one of the stars from the race. But this may come too soon for him. Nevertheless, he’s the sleeping dragon of the field – if he awakens, he could be a major threat. Each way.

7. NARCISSUS (12) 322

Trainer: Peter Snowden

Jockey: Peter Robl

2003. Polar Success storms down the outside to win the Golden Slipper from How Funny. Little did we know that day that two of the runners would produce another runner nine years down the track, that being Narcissus. His sire Exceed and Excel ran 9th in the 2003 Slipper, while his dam Hasna was three lengths ahead in 3rd place. Narcissus is still a maiden but he surely isn’t far from shedding that tag. He finished third on debut behind Raceway and Shelford in the Canonbury Stakes, finished second behind eventual Magic Night Stakes winner Ichihara and then finished second to the very promising All Too Hard last week. He’s got potential and it wouldn’t surprise to see him run a big race. However, I doubt he has enough firepower to win over 1200m. I can’t wait to see him over 1400m and 1600m, as I think he’ll be best suited to those distances. Could place though.

8. SHELFORD (15) 32

Trainer: John O’Shea

Jockey: Brett Prebble

Promising youngster who is also still a maiden. He’s only had two starts for a very good second in the Canonbury Stakes behind Raceway and an okay third in the Todman Stakes behind Pierro and Epaulette. He’s going to need to improve a fair bit to be able to beat those three gallopers, but he definitely has the scope to improve. The gate is a minus, but in many ways it is negated by the booking of Prebble. He is the perfect jockey for a Golden Slipper as he’s very good in these rough races, and he was on a similar hit and run mission when he partnered Crystal Lily to victory two years ago. Not ruling out Shelford entirely but I think I’ll be looking elsewhere. Place at best.

9. SAMAREADY (11) 1111

Trainer: Mick Price

Jockey: Craig Newitt

The unbeaten favourite. This filly has taken all before her to date. She looked very good when winning her debut at Flemington, but bookies still opened her around the $8 mark for the Blue Diamond Prelude. She was crunched and she started a $4.20 favourite. And didn’t she win like a true favourite? She bolted in, and consequently started a fairly short favourite in the Blue Diamond itself. I think that has been her biggest win yet – she ambled up to them and came away. Only No Looking Back could get close. Last time out in the Reisling Stakes, she beat a strong field of fillies with ease in a style very similar to what All Too Hard did in the Pago Pago Stakes a week later. Given what she has shown so far, it is hard to knock her. I don’t think the barrier is that much of an issue and she appears bomb-proof on what we’ve seen so far – she can race handy, she can race back, she’s versatile. But as Craig Newitt said earlier this week, with the withdrawal of All Too Hard she could be a target for other jockeys. Personally, I think she’s the one to beat – and something will have to improve quite a fair bit, or she will have to race below her best, for her to be beaten. Top chance.

10. NO LOOKING BACK (3) 122

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse

Jockey: Craig Williams

This has to be one of the more unorthodox two year old preparations we’ve seen. She won at Warwick Farm in November before heading up to tackle the Magic Millions Classic in January at her second start. She was first past the post but was relegated to second on protest – the eventual winner was the stablemate Driefontein. She then went to Melbourne for the Blue Diamond Stakes, where she had to work overtime from near the outside. She was game in defeat, running second to Samaready. She’s the main danger to Samaready in my eyes, given she’s drawn so well. I think she’ll be able to race closer to the speed here, and that could prove the difference. The preparation is a slight query, I don’t know of many horses who have run in the three biggest races for juveniles. But she merely has to hold her form to be in with a big chance.

11. DRIEFONTEIN (8) 1111

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse

Jockey: Tommy Berry

Another unbeaten filly – but depending on your view of the Magic Millions protest, perhaps she shouldn’t have a picket fence to her name. That is in the past now. She exploded on to the scene with a massive debut win at Randwick before heading to Queensland to win the Bruce McLachlan Stakes. She then went into the Magic Millions, where she was infamously second across the line behind her stablemate No Looking Back. But she won the race on protest. She then came back to Sydney for the Widden Stakes, where she was a heavily backed favourite. She only just fell in to beat Agueda and Hussousa. It wasn’t the sort of performance that screamed Slipper chance. Although I like No Looking Back, I just don’t have the same respect for Driefontein. Looking elsewhere.

12. JADE MARAUDER (16) 3×121

Trainer: Chris Waller

Jockey: Glyn Schofield

Sweet Embrace Stakes winner at Randwick. She has an incredible turn of foot but, as always, that’s not necessarily the right type of horse for a Golden Slipper. She ran a good third on debut in the Gimcrack Stakes behind Hussousa before returning this preparation with a win at Canterbury. She then ran second to Inglis Classic winner Cavalry Rose before winning the Sweet Embrace. I was prepared to entertain her before the barrier draw but the outside barrier makes it that much harder. From there, Schofield has three options – he can go back to last and either hope for an inside gap or come right around the field; he can sit wide and hope to get some cover, which may or may not appear; or he can ride her against her normal pattern and go forward. It’s not entirely impossible, but it definitely makes her job that little bit harder. She’s not a betting proposition for mine, although she could place.

13. SNITZERLAND (7) 2×114

Trainer: Gerald Ryan

Jockey: Corey Brown

I’ve been a big fan of this filly for a long while. I’d heard she had ability prior to her very good second to Applegate on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington. I backed her for the Golden Slipper prior to her return in the Inglis Premier, where she flogged her rivals. She was also at her best on Newmarket day, when she impressed in winning the Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes down the straight. I was expecting her to come to Sydney and prove a worthy challenger for Samaready, but she didn’t show much in the run to the line and finished fourth. She wasn’t bad, either – she was only 2.4L from Samaready. But I was still expecting more. The blinkers go on here, she worked in them the other morning and shaded a very good three year old in Hot Snitzel. If that’s an indication, I’m expecting improvement here. I don’t know if she can beat Samaready, but I think she’s definitely in with a top three chance. I’m including her.

14. CAVALRY ROSE (5) 1142

Trainer: Gerald Ryan

Jockey: Christian Reith

Inglis Classic winner on debut. She is one who has improved with every start. She beat Jade Marauder at her second start before running a good race at Canberra in the Black Opal Stakes on a shifty surface – she finished fourth behind Epaulette. She then charged late last week to just miss grabbing Ichihara. I think she’s a very promising horse and they are yet to reach the bottom of her. I don’t know whether she has the class of some of her rivals but she’s still performed very solidly and could shock out of the blue. The surprise packet.

15. DOUBTFILLY (6) 1751114

Trainer: Stuart Kendrick

Jockey: Damien Oliver

Queensland visitor who is the most exposed horse in the field. This filly is the fairytale of the field. She is trained in Mackay by Stuart Kendrick, who has had most success with Sydney castoffs – names like Koichi, Ellehro and Elastane spring to mind. Doubtfilly came from nowhere to record three strong wins in Brisbane – one at Eagle Farm, one at Doomben, and one at the Gold Coast, where she thrashed former boom filly Snipzu. She came to Sydney for the Magic Night Stakes last weekend and was soundly beaten by Ichihara. It did come as something of a shock when connections decided to pay the late entry fee so she could run. On what she’s shown so far, I believe she’s out of her depth and I reckon she’ll run closer to last than first. But good on the owners for following the dream – if only all owners did that!

16. LATER GATOR (10) 135

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse

Jockey: Luke Nolen

John Singleton-owned filly who made it into the field at the last moment when Nathan Tinkler pulled out All Too Hard. She impressed on debut at Canterbury, winning by four lengths, before running a nice third in the Black Opal Stakes behind Epaulette. Last start, in the Magic Night Stakes last week, I personally thought she was okay when closing late. But I did think she looked more like a Sires Produce/Champagne type. However, Singo was so confident she’d run well, he pulled Dear Demi (trained by “king of the babies” Clarry Conners) out of the race! Therefore, she probably has to be some chance – I’d say place best.


I think, quite simply, the fillies this year are better than the colts. It has stood up time and time again – fillies made up the first three home in the Magic Millions and the first three home in the Blue Diamond Stakes, as well as running the quinella in the Inglis Classic. Overall, they look a strong bunch this year. In fact, I’d probably have only one colt, possibly two, in the top five juveniles I’ve seen this year. All Too Hard would definitely be in there, and he’d probably be on top, while Pierro could probably sneak in there too. On that note, it is such a shame that All Too Hard isn’t lining up, but I hope we see an incredible performance in the Sires next week. Anyway, back to this race. Since All Too Hard’s withdrawal, I’ve been intending to have SAMAREADY on top. She is the class filly in the race and all formlines lead back to her. Sometimes, it is just as simple as the class horse winning the race – although I thought it was that easy in 2010 with Military Rose and she disappointed me. Nevertheless, she has to go on top. The one I was flirting with putting on top momentarily was NO LOOKING BACK. She did have to do a stack of work in the Blue Diamond and she held her margin with Samaready. From a better barrier she should be able to race in a handier position and if she gets a break on Samaready she could be hard to run down. I think, if there’s a blowout, it could come from ASHOKAN – I think a few have dismissed him as a front runner but I liked his run on debut when he made good ground and I think, if he can get in with cover, he could really shock. For fourth, go with RACEWAY. I think he’s become the forgotten horse of the race and he was ridden back last start in order to prepare him for this race. I think he should be ready to produce a big run. It is an open race though, with so many chances. That’s the beauty of the Golden Slipper – in many ways, it is a lottery, with luck playing such a massive part! Next best for mine is Snitzerland, then Cavalry Rose.






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