The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Trainer Chris Waller of Winx fame has achieved plenty but hopes to enjoy what he says would be a “career highlight” winning his maiden Golden Slipper on Saturday.
The Kiwi expat has only ever had one starter in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds with Jade Marauder running second last (15th) to star colt Pierro in the 2012 Golden Slipper.
This weekend he is in the mix with two starters in the iconic Group 1 $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) field saddling-up Performer and Fiesta from wide barriers in the capacity line-up.
Waller would normally be more nervous ahead of a race worth $2 million to the winner, but admits that the fact his stable ace Winx is also on show at Rosehill absorbs that nervous energy.
“She takes your mind off the Slipper,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I won’t get that much time to get nervous about it and probably won’t get nervous until after she runs on Saturday.
“There is always so much pressure with her to perform because of what she has done and the expectation.”
Winx shoots for her incredible 24th win on the trot and a world record 17th Group 1 flat race success when she dually defends her title second-up in the Group 1 $1 million George Ryder Stakes (1500m).
After the Winx show, two races later it is the juvenile’s turn with the Golden Slipper Stakes set to jump as Race 7 at 4:10pm (AEDT) and a win for Waller would be a huge event.
“It is exciting to have a couple of really good chances in the Slipper and if Performer or Fiesta can win it certainly will be a career highlight,” he said.
Favourite in Golden Slipper betting at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $4.20 to keep her winning streak going is Tony McEvoy’s Silver Slipper – Magic Night Stakes double winning filly Sunlight.
While punters are taking the $1.12 on Winx in George Ryder Stakes betting, the stable’s two Slipper hopes can be had at far more generous autumn racing odds.
Performer is paying $10 to atone for throwing rider Hugh Bowman from the saddle last time out, while well-bred I Am Invincible filly Fiesta is at Golden Slipper odds of $21 to overcome the outside barrier (20 into 16).
Exceed And Excel colt Performer was undefeated having won both his career starts including Rosehill’s Group 3 Canonbruy Stakes (1100m) before things went amiss in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) on March 10.
In that the chestnut threw his rider, but bravely Bowman is back in the saddle on Saturday also looking to secure his first Golden Slipper success.
“He is a quality horse and reacted to something the other day,” Bowman said.
“I don’t expect him to do it again.
“I was very impressed with his trial with the blinkers on.
‘My gut feel is they would have gone on anyway for the Golden Slipper, regardless of what happened in the Todman.
“He is an exciting colt and has given me a great deal of confidence since the first time I sat on him.
“I think he would have gone very close to winning [in the Todman].
“I’m not suggesting he was definitely going to win, but I would say he would’ve either just won or been beaten a neck or less. That’s my gut feeling, but I guess we’ll never know.”
Bowman had his first book of rides since the race fall at Newcastle on Thursday and enjoyed two wins on California Turbo and Cedarwood.
Out to be the first Golden Slipper winner from barrier 16 of 16 since Vancouver (2015), Fiesta meanwhile could prove a nice value place bet having finished top three in all four of her starts to date in similar class.
After winning the Group 3 Widden Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill in early February she had her final lead-up on March 3 in the Group 2 Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m).
There she crossed a half-length second to Seabrook who is at $9.50 to win the Golden Slipper on Saturday for Caulfield horseman Mick Price.
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