Gold Coast-based trainer Toby Edmonds has admitted he is hopeful but not confident heading into the 2017 Golden Slipper Stakes on Saturday after his favoured filly Houtzen drew wide once again.
A winner of all four of her career starts to date, I Am Invincible filly Houtzen is getting used to overcoming bad luck in the barrier draw department.
That luck didn’t change ahead of her weekend run in the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens.
There were nineteen final Golden Slipper Stakes acceptors, sixteen of which will line-up in the field for the world’s richest race for two-year-olds this autumn.
Houtzen drew out in gate sixteen, but could come into fourteen if the three emergencies fail to gain a run.
“Nothing new, she knows where she goes and just heads to the outside of the barriers,” Edmonds said post the Golden Slipper Stakes barrier draw.
Houtzen had the outside alley (16 of 16) for her $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) win at the Gold Coast in mid-January.
She then raced at Eagle Farm on March 4 in a two-years-old handicap from the widest alley again in her final tune-up for Saturday’s Golden Slipper test.
Edmonds opted for the Eagle Farm run a fortnight back over a traditional lead-up run at Randwick in the Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m).
Randwick raced with a Heavy (9) surface that day and instead of battling it out in the mud, Houtzen instead made history with 63kg on her back for a four length romp home over 1000m in Brisbane.
That wasn’t as soft a race as the punters may think Edmonds stressed, and had Houtzen well-prepared for her first Rosehill run in the classic this weekend.
“We did dodge a Heavy track…but it is a very testing track Eagle Farm right now,” he said.
“It’s was a little bit tougher run than you think.
“She come through that run good and gets big weight relief this week from her last start.”
Edmonds said that he would be feeling far more confident if his filly had drawn better and that things were now up to her regular rider Jeff Lloyd on Saturday.
“It’s up to Jeff now,” he said.
“She’s got great gate speed and we can punch her forward and see where we get in the run.
“The barrier sort of makes us more hopeful than confident right now.
“If we’d drawn a good barrier, we would’ve been confident.”
Lloyd has just his second ride in a Golden Slipper field this autumn, but is well experienced in the Houtzen department having partnered her for all four of her career starts and wins to date.
Houtzen travelled from Queensland to Sydney on Sunday and had settled in well according to Edmonds who gave her a gallop at Rosehill on Tuesday morning.
“She’s settled in fantastic,” he said.
“She had a gallop here this morning and has come through really well.
“I think she’s probably going better now than before the Magic Millions…so we’re in a good spot.”
Despite the wide alley, the bookmakers have kept Houtzen at the top of the Golden Slipper Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
She is now paying $4 to join Crystal Lily (2010), Overreach (2013) and Mossfun (2014) as the latest fillies to beat home the boys in the Golden Slipper Stakes results.
Should Houtzen salute, she will be the first Golden Slipper Stakes winner to come off a Brisbane lead-up in over 30 years.
Favourites have a strong recent record in the race with four saluting in the past decade, most recently Vancouver ($2.50 in 2015).
The fillies are all the rage in the Golden Slipper Stakes Final Field Betting Odds this year with the other best fancied being the Gary Portelli-trained She Will Reign ($5) and the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes winner Catchy ($7).
Back Houtzen in the Golden Slipper Stakes 2017 odds online now at Ladbrokes.com.au!