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The Golden Slipper
The Golden Slipper Stakes is one of the most highly anticipated races early onto the Australian Horse Racing calendar. This Group 1 race is contested over 1,200 meters at the Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in Sydney, Australia. This race is exclusive for two-year-old race horses and its prize pool of about AUD$3.5 million is the biggest purse for an exclusive race for two-year-olds worldwide.
Before 2008, the race was conducted on the Saturday before Good Friday. However, it was re-scheduled in 2008 to be held in mid-April. The first Golden Slipper Stakes was held in 1957 and it was created by Sydney Turf Club’s George Ryder. He conceptualized an event for two-year-old horses at special weights with colts and geldings weighing 8 stone, 7 pounds or 54 kilograms while fillies weighing 8 stone or 51 kilograms. Ryder gave allowance for fillies to level the playing field.
Eleven thoroughbreds participated in the inaugural Golden Slipper Stakes wherein Todman of the Star Kingdom stable emerged victorious. Todman was jockeyed that day by Neville F. Sellwood. After Todman, the next four winners of the Golden Slipper Stakes also came from the Star Kingdom stable and most of Star Kingdom’s sirelines can still be found in Golden Slipper winners as of late.
Magic Night became the first filly to win the Golden Slipper Stakes when she dominated the opposition in 1961. She was a 15:1 favourite to win the race but she emerged victorious over second place Young Brogla by half-length and third place Commanding by four lengths. Meanwhile, the 1962 and 1963 editions were won by two late entries, Proud Miss and Pago Pago, respectively.
The photo finish camera first figured in deciding the winner for the Golden Slipper Stakes in 1966 when Storm Queen and Academy Star gave out a neck-to-neck battle. It seems as if Academy Star crossed the line first but after looking at the photo finish camera, it was revealed that Storm Queen crossed the finish line over Academy Star by a head. Very Merry finished in third place.
The photo finish camera once again helped determine a winner when Dawn Command and Century Miss gave no advantage to their opponent. After viewing the photo finish camera, it was clear that Century Miss came from behind to steal the victory over Dawn Command by a head.
The 1990’s saw domination from the stallion Danehill that has sired four Golden Slipper Stakes champions in the decade. In 2001, Gai Waterhouse pulled off a first in Golden Slipper Stakes history when three out of her five entries took the first, second and third places respectively. During that year, Ha Ha finished first, Excellerator finished second and Red Hannigan finished third.
Trainers use a number of races to prepare for the Golden Slipper Stakes. The most notable of which are the Reisling Slipper Trial and the Magic Night Stakes that are exclusive for fillies. In contrast, the Pago Pago Stakes and the Todman Slipper Trial are tune-up races that are exclusive for colts and geldings. The distance and track conditions of these races are close to that of the Golden Slipper Stakes which makes them ideal tune-up races.
The Golden Slipper Stakes has been staged 54 times. Colts and geldings have won 37 while fillies have won 17 times. Trainer T.J. Smith is the most successful trainer in Golden Slipper Stakes history for he has won six races by training Fairy Walk (1971), John’s Hope (1972), Hartshill (1974), Toy Show (1975), Bounding Away (1986) and Star Watch (1988).
After T.J. Smith, J.B. “Bart” Cummings, Clarry E. Conners and Lee Freedman have each won four Golden Slipper Stakes apiece. Cummings won with Storm Queen (1966), Tontonan (1973), Vivarchi (1976) and Century Miss (1979). Meanwhile, Conners won the Golden Slipper with Tierce (1991), Burst (1992), Prowl (1998) and Belle du Jour (2000). Freedman took his Golden Slipper Stakes victories with Bint Marscay (1993), Danzero (1994), Flying Spur (1995) and Merlene (1996).
As for the jockeys, Ron Quinton and Shane Dye have the most number of Golden Slipper wins with four apiece while Mick Dittman, Kevin Langby and Athol Mulley have three apiece. Dye dominated the race from 1989 to 1992 by winning aboard Courtza, Canny Lad, Tierce and Burst respectively. Meanwhile, Quinton won with Marscay (1982), Sir Dapper (1983), Rory’s Jester (1985) and Marauding (1987).