The punters are starting to come for the sole Kiwi-trained raider in the Golden Slipper 2013 field for this weekend with the odds on Stephen Marsh’s Group 1 winning filly Ruud Awakening firming ahead of the Rosehill Gardens showdown.
One of 16 confirmed starters (plus two emergencies) making up this year’s $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) field, Bernardini filly Ruud Awakening will be racing down under for the first time on Saturday having been one of two late entries in the race.
A winner of five of her six career starts back home so far Ruud Awakening has progressed through the ranks in New Zealand and was last seen showing her customary speed and skill to score an easy 2.5 length victory over the boys in the Group 1 Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on March 90.
Connections have opted to travel her across the Tasman now, Ruud Awakening arriving in Sydney last week almost unnoticed, and test her down under starting with the Golden Slipper 2013 where she will face a talented field including Gai Waterhouse’s top fancy Overreach.
If successful in scoring an upset Golden Slipper result Ruud Awakening will be the first New Zealand-trained horse to win the world’s richest race for two-year-olds repaying owners for their hefty $150,000 late entry fee.
The closest was Our Maizcay who was fourth to Flying Spur in 1995.
One person confident she has it in her is top Aussie hoop Craig Williams who travelled over to New Zealand to ride her to her smart three length victory in the Listed Karaka Million (1200m) win back in January.
“If I didn’t think Ruud Awakening could beat Overreach I wouldn’t be on her,” Williams, winning jockey aboard Miss Finland (David Hayes) in the 2008 Golden Slipper, said.
“I would have ridden (Todman Stakes winner) Criterion instead.
“I think Criterion’s form is really good, he’s got a great attitude, so the day won’t frazzle him.
“He’s probably one of the most solid horses. It’s probably just the fact of where he would be … I only looked at the Golden Slipper, not the future.
“If I didn’t think Ruud Awakening could test Gai’s horse I would have been more than comfortable to stick with Criterion because there’s no doubt that he’s going to be a really good seven furlongs to a mile horse.
“But tactically he’s going to probably be giving those horses eight lengths’ head start and I just thought that will be a decisive factor in a Golden Slipper.
“My choice was based just on the one race. Ruud Awakening gave me that feeling that she might be good enough. It wasn’t an easy decision. We will know on Saturday whether we are right or wrong.”
And as for the 56-year hoodoo of New Zealanders in the classic?
“All I know is that this filly gave me the feeling that she could be the one that is good enough,” he said.
Williams partnered with Ruud Awakening this morning for her final gallop ahead of the Slipper which was his first time back in her saddle since their NZ win.
The other Golden Slipper 2013 late entry meanwhile was the Peter Moody-trained, Tony Santic-owned Il Cavallo who is the second emergency.
A son of Choisir Il Cavallo has had just the one start to date when putting in a big four length effort over 9000m at Sandown on March 27.
Despite yet being installed of a start the fact they equaled the country’s 900m race record of 49.3 seconds on debut was enough for bookies to install them inside the top five chances in the Golden Slipper odds.
“It’s not ideal, but outside of one who appears very dominant [Overreach] it seems to be a very open race,” Moody said.
“I have had him in the last two lead-ups but did not have enough time to give him the education to go up [to Sydney].
“I took the soft option of the run at Sandown … at least it furthers his education.
“It got a nice gallop into him, he found the 900 a bit short the other day but he still ran a record and he’s a good-quality colt. And they don’t run the Slipper next year.”
While the official Golden Slipper field has been released the barrier draw won’t be conducted until 12pm (AEST) today.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au to see where your Slipper favourites have drawn and then head over to our preferred online bookie bookmaker.com.au and get in on the weekend’s ace betting action!