One of Australia’s premier jockeys Jim Cassidy will shoot for his second Slipper success on Saturday when he partners with $101 roughie Faustus in the 2012 Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens.
Cassidy rode his first and to date only Golden Slipper winner back in 2001 handing trainer Gai Waterhouse her breakthrough win in the world’s richest race for juveniles with Ha Ha.
Waterhouse has claimed two subsequent Slippers with Dance Hero (2004) ridden by Chris Munce and most recently Sebring (2008) with Glen Boss in the saddle.
This year Tulloch Lodge representatives saturate the field for the $3.5 million Group 1 AAMI Golden Slipper (1200m) with five Waterhouse-trained stablemates in the mix.
Her hopefuls in order of their Golden Slipper odds at bookmaker.com.au are unbeaten Lonhro colt Pierro ($6) on the rails in barrier one, Blue Diamond Stakes runner-up No Looking Back ($8.50) also drawn nicely in gate three, Magic Millions Classic winner Driefontein ($14) and Raceway ($15).
Cassidy, however, won’t be aboard any of these.
Instead he will partner with one of three John O’Shea-trained Golden Slipper hopefuls, More Than Ready colt Faustus.
“It’s every jockey’s dream to race in a Golden Slipper,” Cassidy said.
“It’s probably the second race that stops a nation (along with the Melbourne Cup).”
Randwick-based O’Shea suffered a horror morning at the Golden Slipper 2012 barrier draw, his trio all drawing unfavourably wide.
“To get one two year old in a race of 16 that’s worth $3 million bucks is always a reward thing and we’ve worked very hard to get all three in,” O’Shea said this morning.
“I’ve said all along there’s absolutely nothing between all three.”
Faustus was the best drawn of the three in barrier 13 followed by Ashokan (14) and Shelford (15).
Fellow More Than Ready colt Ashokan, an expensive $810,000 yearling purchase at the 2011 Inglis Easter Sales, was last seen beating home Raceway by three quarters of a length in the Group 3 Skyline Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on a Slow (7) track.
It seems the bookies and punters have said the wide draw rules them out however with Ashokan, to be ridden by young New Zealand hoop James McDonald replacing Cassidy who already committed himself to Faustus, paying $51 in the Golden Slipper bookmaker.com.au markets.
O’Shea is 100 percent confident that McDonald will do a good job aboard Ashokan on Saturday, rating him as one of the world’s best jockeys.
“I think James McDonald is one of the top 10 jockeys in the world so I think he’ll stack up just fine,” O’Shea said.
“James did a bit of work on all these babies in about August – September of last year he came and jumped them out got a feel for them.
“So it’s only fair that we should reward him with the opportunity to come over and participate in the grand final.”
Redoute’s Choice two-year-old Shelford, meanwhile, is an $81 Golden Slipper betting outsider after the draw despite their good third behind Pierro and Peter Snowden’s $6.50 fancy Epaulette in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 24.
Hong Kong-based Brett Prebble comes over for the ride on Shelford, the jockey having won the 2010 Golden Slipper aboard the ill-fated Crystal Lily.
“We were very keen to get him in because the thing that cost him accruing prize money was the wet tracks so we kept trying to avoid them cause we knew he wasn’t overly affective in them,” O’Shea said of Shelford.
“When he got into the Todman the other day things didn’t quite go his way (but) he raced very well.
“His work this morning is definitely competitive and indicative that he’s going to be competitive in the race.”
A Rosehill winner on debut last November, Faustus resumed with a close first-up second behind Epaulette in the Listed Black Opal Stakes (1200m) at Canberra.
They were disappointing last start however when finishing over seven lengths away fifth behind Pierro in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m), O’Shea and Cassidy both hoping to see the improvement on Saturday they know Faustus has.
“My task isn’t going to be easy but I can say that the horse looked good this morning,” Cassidy said of Faustus.
“You’ve got to be in it to win it.
“The main thing is a trouble free run, you can’t afford to be stop and start in a race like the Slipper because you blink and it’ll be all over.
“They (O’Shea’s horses) looked fabulous this morning.
“I couldn’t expect the colt (Faustus) to work any better than he worked this morning.
“Obviously they’ve got to improve a little to take on some of the horses that are short in the market.”
O’Shea will also take the blinkers off Faustus in an attempt to improve him for the big day.
“Just felt he was a little wayward and he got a bit lost in them the other day, probably ride him a bit different too put him right on the bunny he’s a big tough horse he’ll appreciate that,” O’Shea said.
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