One race before the 2011 Golden Slipper takes centre stage at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon, a top field of weight-for-age gallopers will face off in the $400,000 Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) and Dao Dao has been tipped as the best to back for the win.
The 15-horse 2011 George Ryder Stakes field is currently lead by $4.80 favourite Aloha, Mick Price’s Encosta De Lago mare in red hot form having won her past five races consecutively since November.
Last start Aloha broke her Group 1 maiden status with a stunning 2 ½ length win in the Coolmore Classic (1500m) her on March 19.
Coming off great form, having won at the George Ryder Stakes track and distance last start, drawn ideally in barrier three and to be ridden by champion hoop Glen Boss – punters have been keen to back Aloha to make it two Group 1 wins in a row.
Her test in the George Ryder this afternoon, however, is a tough one as she faces off against the best in the business including defending champion Danleigh coming off a win in the Chipping Norton, Randwick Guineas winner Ilovethiscity and Gai Waterhouse’s veteran galloper Theseo.
Of the George Ryder field, it is $8 market firmer Dao Dao that the experts are tipping to score an upset.
Luxbet’s chief bookmaker Paul Vincent has named Dao Dao as the ‘Best Value’ bet on Golden Slipper Day.
“Dao Dao looks primed for this after two top runs since resuming in Melbourne, the latest when narrowly beaten by Whobegotoyou,” Vincent told Races.com.au.
The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained seven-year-old has shown plenty of grit this season in his two first-up efforts.
Following a devastatingly close second to fellow George Ryder rival Wall Street in the Emirates Stakes on wet ground over the Flemington mile during the spring, Dao Dao came back this season with a first-up third to now five-time Group 1 winner More Joyous in the Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 26.
Dao Dao then came within a head of weight-for-age champ Whobegotyou last start when second in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 12.
Today the Shinko Forest gelding makes his Sydney debut, set to start from the ideal barrier four draw with Dwayne Dunn in the mount.
“Dunn should have him in a nice position from his good draw,” Vincent said.
“He can salute in what is a very difficult race.”
Another horse well-backed in the market is Peter Snowden’s Skilled.
The Commands colt comes into today’s showdown having finished second in a very tight finish behind Ilovethiscity in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) on March 12.
“Skilled was unlucky in the Randwick Guineas,” Vincent said.
Today Skilled takes on Ilovethiscity again in the George Ryder, this time drawn well in barrier two while Ilovethiscity is out wide in gate 11.
“He’s also drawn well which should enable him to settle near the speed.
“(Skilled) is the definite danger.”
Skilled is paying $11 to win the George Ryder Stakes this afternoon, Snowden to use his run today as a guide whether to continue on to take on the mighty More Joyous in the $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 16.
“If he runs competitively in that (the George Ryder) then we’ll know we can go on to the Doncaster,” Snowden said.
The 2011 George Ryder Stakes is due to jump at 3:10pm (AEDST).