The Golden Slipper shapes Australian racing

Mar 22, 2019

For me Saturday at Rosehill is the number one race day in Australia without question. There are five Group I’s and, of course the great mare Winx steps out but it’s the Golden Slipper which is the showpiece, after all it’s the one race with the capacity to shape the Australian racing industry.

My first vivid memory of the Slipper was back in 1999 when I was working at Crown Lodge and strapping the good colt Align.

I’d been working at the stable since I was 16 and at the time of the ’99 Slipper was 19. Apart from being strapper for Align I also used to ride him in work, so I was very close to the horse.

On that Slipper day it was a case of so near yet so far as Align had to endure a wide run throughout only to go down late in the piece with Catbird getting over the top of him in the last few strides.

Dad won the race with Sepoy in 2011 then, when we went into a training partnership, I was lucky enough to be co-trainer when Capitalist won in 2016.

When you look through the Slipper winner’s you’ll see what a major influence they’ve had on Australian breeding, and to win the race with a colt is the pinnacle of what you can do to elevate the value of a young horse.

This year we have two colts and two fillies in the final field with Rome sitting as second emergency but we live in hope that he might sneak a run.

As for the colt we have Cosmic Force, he’s come on the scene in a big way in a short space of time and obviously caught the attention of everyone when he won by a big space at Rosehill last week.

We were certainly upbeat about his chances last time but couldn’t have envisaged him winning so easily so it was a pleasing result.

But let’s not kid ourselves, this is going to be a much tougher assignment, a completely different race but I can assure everyone that the horse has bounced back in very good order from the run and we couldn’t be happier with him.

Both dad and I have studied him very closely all week, looking for anything out of the ordinary, but I must say he’s perfect. He’s a good doer, is tough but relaxed and he just takes it all in his stride.

If anything, he seems to have improved since last week and everything is spot on from our point-of-view. And any rain, as we now know won’t harm his chances.

When it was raining at Randwick on Thursday morning I must admit to being delighted and was hoping they would get some at Rosehill as it’s not only Cosmic Force who fancies the wet but also one of our fillies Anaheed, and of course Redzel.

Anaheed and Catch Me are our two fillies in the Slipper and both have thrived during the week.

Anaheed had a bit of a setback earlier in her preparation down in Melbourne when she sprained a joint and while she never missed any significant work it was a minor hiccup you’d prefer not to have.

But since then she hasn’t missed a beat and after she won at Randwick her run when fourth last start was full of merit. She’s drawn to get the right run just off the pace and she’s a good filly.

Catch Me was highly rated for the Blue Diamond after winning the Gimcrack and the Blue Diamond Preview but things went off track after that.

Her head wasn’t quite right but since we’ve got her home to Randwick she has responded really well settling back into the environment she’s comfortable in and her trial performance last week suggested she’s back on track.

Rome is our other Slipper acceptor but he’s second emergency and you’d have to doubt him getting a run but if he did the colt has drawn well and it’s about time something went right for him.

He missed a start in the Magic Millions then we tried to qualify him for the Slipper via the Black Opal but he was ridden too aggressively and didn’t finish it off.

In assessing our Slipper runners I have to agree the bookies seem to have it right with Cosmic Force our number one seed but all the same we are very happy with the two fillies.

Redzel lines up in The Galaxy and he’s in top order, while the TJ Smith is his prime target for the autumn he’s still ready to roll for this race.

We know Redzel has a liking for wet tracks and if the surface is heavy on Saturday one thing it does do is take a bit of the early speed out of the race which will make it easier for him to carry the 59.5kg.

He’s hard and tough and the step up to 1100m is going to suit him better than the 1000m last time and it will tick another box getting a hard run into him on the way to the TJ where he will be 120%.

Land Of Plenty has his second run for the stable against Winx in the George Ryder and while I don’t think we’ll be spoiling the party the horse is going well but at the same time there are a few things against him.

We wanted to run him last week at Rosehill but the heavy track knocked that run out and if he’s going to get to the Doncaster he needs to run here, although he’s one who doesn’t want it too wet.

He’s also not suited at weight-for-age, especially against Winx but at the same time we can’t leave him at home and keep missing lead-up races with the Doncaster only a fortnight away.

Still he’s a good horse and lovely to have around the stable, he’s like an old gelding not a five-year-old stallion but he’s going well however we just need to find a track which is a bit firmer underfoot to see his best.

Military Zone is resuming in the Darby Munro and he’s one horse whose next six or eight weeks are definitely going to be impacted upon by the weather.

He trialled well recently on a soft track but was under no pressure however on race day he has had a couple of starts on wet tracks and has hardly been outstanding, although there may have been a few excuses.

While we’re happy with the way he has come up we’d love to have him on more solid ground.

So, with that the case we’ll just have to play it week to week with him but he’s highly talented and there’s a good race in him, which could come towards the end of the Sydney carnival or even in Brisbane.

Old Dothraki represents the stable in the William Reid at Moonee Valley on Friday night and while he’s long odds you can never rule the horse out of anything.

He’s had a great 15 or so months since we were thinking about retiring him and he really retains his zest for racing.

For a horse which cost $45,000 Dothraki has been a great money spinner for connections winning over $1.6m in prizemoney and he has given them plenty of thrills in the past 12 months.

Obviously Sunlight is the one to beat, but from a soft draw and with Damian Lane in the saddle the old bloke gets his chance to run well at his first start at the Valley, and I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off having a little something on him at the big price.

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