It’s billed as the richest two-year old race in the world, but it’s much more than that. With fourteen horses presented by some of the world’s biggest studs, it truly is an integral part of the global racing calendar. A capacity field will line up with eleven of the sixteen starters coming from one of the ‘big four’ stables of Gai Waterhouse, David Hayes, Team Hawkes and John O’Shea.
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In much the same vain as the champion Pierro before him, star colt Vancouver is looking to provide Gai Waterhouse with a record equalling sixth win. None other than her father – the great T.J. Smith – holds that record.
The physically imposing colt made it three wins from as many starts after he destroyed his rivals (and the clock) in his Todman win at Randwick two weeks ago. Before the barrier draw on Tuesday he was a commanding favourite with many experts declaring him unbeatable, but after selecting eighteen of nineteen the support for him as understandably waned (currently $2.80 with TAB.com.au.). Tommy Berry will need to reach into his bag of tricks and if he can get some cover and luck he is still the horse to beat.
The Godolphin army has launched a four horse assault on this year’s Slipper with all of them seemingly having a genuine chance of winning. Their raw colt Exosphere ($4.20) has been described by trainer John O’Shea as the pick of them, but unbeaten ‘Haptic’ ($17) also has honest claims. It’s been a quantum leap for Exosphere after coming from a Kembla Grange maiden only two starts ago, when his stable-mate started odds on favourite, but his untapped ability has the camp happy. Due to Vancouver drawing wide, Exosphere has been well fancied this week. Strong support for him actually commenced over a week ago with one well-heeled supporter parting with fifty thousand dollars to potentially collect $300,000 from TAB.com.au.
The speed in this race will be extremely important and according to form expert Deane Lester most of the genuine speed is drawn inside which leaves an interesting decision for Tommy Berry to make on Vancouver.
Interesting Victorian colt Ready for Victory is a horse for Sydney punters to keep an eye out for. He has only had one start down the Flemington straight it was hard not to like how he attacked the line. Out of a Zabeel mare and likely to strip much fitter, trainer Mick Price said he worked the Sydney way of going twice this week and expects him to be in the finish ($11)
My selections for the Golden Slipper are: Vancouver to beat Ready for Victory and Exosphere.