Golden Gift could offer up early Slipper favourite

Nov 24, 2018

The early Golden Slipper favourite will probably be decided by Saturday’s Golden Gift at Rosehill with a couple of boom colts and a Godolphin blueblood coming together in arguably the best two-year-old race of the season so far.

The Gift was put into place by the Australian Turf Club a couple of years ago and has already produced a Slipper runner-up in Yankee Rose and several runners in the ultimate juvenile race.

Golden Slipper-winning trainer Gary Portelli, who won the Golden Gift with Secret Lady last year, has impressive six-length Warwick Farm trial winner Spaceboy lining up over 1100 metres at Rosehill with Gerald Ryan stepping out Cardiff, a two-time trial winner, also on debut. Godolphin has Tassort, a half-brother to Astern and Alizee.

“I think it is a race where you learn where you stand in terms of the better ones,” Portelli said. “It has become a race a bit later in the year than the Breeders and Gimcrack that gives you a chance to have a run and a break before it gets serious.

"We won it with Secret Lady last year and it meant you could plan a program in the autumn to get to the Golden Slipper.''

Team Hawkes has sent Zoustar colt Torched up from Melbourne after he was scratched from the listed Merson Cooper Stakes at Sandown for his debut. He has won a Cranbourne barrier trial, and then there is Jonah, who has a lugging bit after being a little wayward when second to Time To Reign on debut.

Ryan has been impressed by Cardiff in two trial wins, the second beating Tassort with some authority.

“I have had plenty of two-year-olds that have been good on the track and in trials but haven’t done it on raceday,” Ryan said. “That is what Saturday is about: putting it on the board.

“We have been well prepared for this race and he is a natural jump and run colt, so I expect him to run well.”

Portelli has been taken by his Deep Field colt since the Magic Millions Sale last year, where he forked out $200,000 for Spaceboy. Even before his race debut he has been made favourite for the Magic Millions Classic on the back of his trial win.

“He is just a big, imposing colt. I bought him in the morning and he was oversold by the afternoon,” Portelli said. “When he was knocked down to me in the ring we took a couple of clients up to see him at the stables and they all took shares. It was amazing.

“He has matched his looks on the track and with how he works. He has been a natural at everything he has done so far and he is ready to go to the races and find out how good he is.

“He takes a couple of strides to get going out of the stalls, so I think he might get crossed, but his work behind horses is probably the best he has gone. On Tuesday we put him behind one on the course proper and he was past in the straight before you knew it.

“He hadn’t been out there before and had a good look at the stands, which is good for Saturday, and still broke 11 seconds home.”

The race shapes as a spirited betting affair with Cardiff the $3.10 BetEasy favourite from Spaceboy, which has been $3.40 to $3.20, while Tassort is $3.70.

Jonah has the race fitness on his side and is a $6.50 chance with a lugging bit applied.

“He just got a little lost when he pulled out in the straight on debut,” co-trainer Paul Snowden said. “He has that run under his belt and he is the sort of horse that is going to keep getting better every time he goes to the races.”

Chris Roots - Sydney Morning Herald - 23/11/18