Golden Slipper betting: Intriguing and open contest
The world's richest juvenile contest - the $3.5 million Gr.1 Golden Slipper Stakes, a race rich in two-year-old history - one that is most often won by the hardest, fastest, fittest youngster.
A leading shaper of the Australian thoroughbred is the Slipper, a race whose honour roll includes the successful stallions Todman, Vain, Luskin Star, Marscay, Rory's Jester, Marauding, Canny Lad, Danzero and Flying Spur.
And then there have been the wonderful fillies such as Birthday Card, Reisling, Storm Queen, Toy Show, Courtza, Burst, Bint Marscay, Merlene, Belle du Jour, Miss Finland and Forensics.
Geldings win the occasional Slippers too, the very best of those the mighty Manikato.
So who adds their name to this illustrious list this year and delights at least some who have indulged in Golden Slipper betting? The 2009 edition of the Slipper looks to be one of the most intriguing and the most open and the arrival of rain does not many matters clearer.
In fact only two of the 18 acceptors have won on slow going - tough filly Horizons taking out the Widden Stakes and Indian Ocean a 2Y0 handicap at Rosehill in December.
Horizons looked a chance at odds in Golden Slipper betting, having been consistent in the lead up but as an on-pacer barrier 17 makes it tough for her. Indian Ocean's gate two might not be much use either - sometimes the inside chopping up on a wet day. Plus he is right up in class.
So it is a clash between the two favourites Real Saga and More Joyous? Their form credentials are hard to fault though of course the filly did put on quite the buck jumping display two starts ago. She atoned last time though - on the same day that Real Saga put on display his superior turn of foot.
Whoever is the best of the two won't be clear until Saturday but the appearance of two such exciting babies ensures that fans of each will get a decent price.
Meanwhile, in Golden Slipper betting, those in the Rostova fan club will be happy with the handy each-way odds on offer. She got a little lost ridden upside down in the Blue Diamond but her latest win could not have been an easier one. Okay, she has to rise in grade and drop back in distance but Von Costa de Hero followed the same path last year and only just failed to pick up Sebring after going very wide at the turn.
The impeccably bred Manhattan Rain, by one of Australia's leading stallions in Encosta de Lago - and a half brother to another in Redoute's Choice - has some wet track form and did look very good last time out.
Likely to be spot on for this - Gai Waterhouse always keen to win the Slipper - Manhattan Rain can make up for his brother's miss; Redoute's Choice a scratching from a Slipper in which he would've started a hot favourite.
I like the way Phelan Ready and So Anyway finished off at their most recent outings. They were no match for the winners but did not have the best of runs and just kept giving. A bit of pace on here and they could be the two to surprise at nice odds.
In summary I am looking for the youngster with the most scope for improvement. The leading trio - Real Saga, Rostova and More Joyous - look fairly ready made which means for value I am leading towards Manhattan Rain. He was still pretty big last time, sweating up and racing a tad greenly. But still he was too good. A win here and he is the most valuable stallion prospect in years!