Industry heavyweights maintain the Golden Slipper is the nation’s most influential race

Is the Golden Slipper overdue for a prizemoney boost?

The glamour two-year-old event once challenged for the honour of the nation’s richest race but in recent years it has slid down the big-race stakes ladder and is now ranked eighth.

Gai Waterhouse, the most successful trainer in Golden Slipper history with seven wins, is never afraid to speak her mind and says the race’s current prizemoney of $3.5 million does not reflect its importance to the Australian racing and breeding industry.

But the Golden Slipper remains the world’s richest juvenile race and there is a valid argument to suggest the race already has sufficient stakes.

An increase in prizemoney is not going to improve the quality of the Slipper field as the best two-year-olds contest the race every year anyway.

However, the Golden Slipper is a magnet for publicity and generates considerable interest in the sport.

Only the $15 million The Everest and $8 million Melbourne Cup have a similar capacity to attract year-long media and public interest.

But the Golden Slipper, a race that is all about speed, hasn’t kept pace with the increasing prizemoney for some of the other feature races.

It might surprise many to learn that the Golden Slipper’s total prizemoney has remained at $3.5 million since Forensics won in 2007. At that time, it was still the nation’s second richest race behind the $5 million Melbourne Cup.

In the early 1990s, when both races were worth $2 million, all that separated them was the value of the Melbourne Cup trophy.

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THE NATION’S RICHEST RACES

$15 million The Everest

$8 million Melbourne Cup

$7.5 million Golden Eagle

$5 million Cox Plate

$5 million Caulfield Cup

$5 million All Star Mile

$4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes

$3.5 million Golden Slipper

$3 million Doncaster Mile

$2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes

#52 races worth $1 million or more are run in Australia each season

GOLDEN SLIPPER BETTING

$6 Enthaar

$11 Acrobat, Remarque

$15 Profiteer, Shaquero

$17 Four Moves Ahead

$21 Captivant, She’s All Class, Stay Inside

WIDDEN STAKES-GOLDEN SLIPPER

Mossfun (2014), Overreach (2013)

CANONBURY STAKES-GOLDEN SLIPPER

Vancouver (2015), Sebring (2008), Fine And Dandy (1959)

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Despite the Golden Slipper not getting a deserving “pay rise” in years, the magic of the race hasn’t faded.

At Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, the Group 2 Expressway Stakes is the feature race and despite the obvious interest in the feature weight-for-age sprint, equal attention will be given to crucial Golden Slipper lead-up races, the Widden Stakes and Canonbury Stakes.

Waterhouse, who has Total Babe ($3.70) and possibly Excela Bella ($12) running for her stable in the Group 3 $150,000 Widden Stakes (1100m), is an advocate for increasing Golden Slipper prizemoney.

“The Golden Slipper should be NSW’s version of the Melbourne Cup,’’ said Waterhouse, who earlier this week was made and Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day honours list.

“We should promote what we are so good at which is sprinters. The Slipper shapes our breeding industry and has done so for the last 40 years.

“There should be a Golden Slipper parade with past winners, have the barrier draw be back in the centre of the city — give the race the exposure it deserves. I’d promote it any day.

“The race is not being promoted as it should, it is a travesty. The two-year-olds need to have more recognition and they are not getting it anymore.’’

To be fair, Australian Turf Club has had a greater emphasis on Golden Slipper promotion in recent years and concentrated promotion on attracting more race fans from Sydney’s western suburbs to Rosehill.

Jockey Hugh Bowman rides Farnan in last year’s Golden Slipper. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

But as Waterhouse said, the Golden Slipper is renowned for shaping the Australian breeding industry and is regarded by many as the nation’s most influential race.

Coolmore’s Tom Magnier, who part-owns promising first starter Home Affairs, the 3.40 favourite for the Group 3 $160,000 Canonbury Stakes (1100m), said the Golden Slipper is recognised as the nation’s “most successful stallion-making race.’’

“The leading sires in the country have won the Golden Slipper,’’ Magnier said.

“Every stud in the country wants to stand a Golden Slipper winner and we are fortunate at Coolmore to stand two, Pierro and Vancouver.

“The race is recognised the world over as a stallion-making race. In England, there is the Epsom Derby, in America it is the Kentucky Derby but in Australia it is in the Golden Slipper.

“If you asked Dad (John Magnier) and the lads back home (Ireland) which races they most want to win in Australia then the Golden Slipper is right up there.’’

Pierro’s triumph in 2012 highlights the notion that the Slipper is recognised the world over as a stallion-making race.Source:News Corp Australia

There are more pressing issues in racing than raising the stakes for the Golden Slipper but Magnier pointed out the recent explosion in prizemoney levels makes Australia the envy of racing jurisdictions around the world.

Although the massive stakes on offer for some of the nation’s major races is questioned by critics with suggestions the money would be better spent in other areas of the racing industry, there is also a tacit recognition of the need for aspirational races like The Everest, Melbourne Cup and Golden Slipper with significant prizemoney levels to continually attract long-term investors in Australian racing.

The “stakes race” between NSW and Victoria in recent years has also been responsible for minimum race prizemoney increases which benefits all those involved in the sport.

“We feel the future for our industry is in Australia,’’ Magnier said.

“There are a number of factors for this and prizemoney is one. Thee breeding industry here is also very robust and the involvement of young people in racing is something we don’t see anywhere else in the world.

“We (Coolmore) spent over $30 million on mares and yearlings last year alone and we are delighted to be a part of Australian racing, we are very passionate about it.

“The industry is very healthy. The stars in racing here are like footballers in Europe. People like Gai Waterhouse can’t walk down the street without being recognised.

“When you look at races like The Everest, Melbourne Cup, Golden Slipper, they are the races we want to win.

“The whole world is envious of Australian racing. What is happening here in Australia racing is what the rest of the world is trying to achieve.’’

Coolmore is chasing a breakthrough Golden Slipper win this autumn and Magnier is optimistic that Home Affairs and particularly unbeaten colt Acrobat can measure up in the feature two-year-old race, run at Rosehill on March 20.

Trainer Gai Waterhouse celebrates winning the 2012 edition with Pierro.Source:AAP

“Home Affairs is a nice type, an impressive colt, and his trial win a couple of weeks ago was very good,’’ Magnier said.

“We are leaving it up to (trainer) Chris Waller what program he determines for the colt.

“Acrobat’s injury on his leg is healing well and (trainer) Ciaron Maher’s pretty positive about him at the moment.

“The aim is the still the Golden Slipper but the road Ciaron choses to get Acrobat there is still undecided.’’

The last word belongs to Waterhouse who is chasing another Golden Slipper trophy for her mantelpiece alongside those she has won with Farnan (2020), Vancouver (2015), Outreach (2013), Pierro (2012), Sebring (2008), Dance Hero (2004) and Ha Ha (2001).

Racing’s first lady trains in partnership with Adrian Bott these days and has Total Babe primed for the Widden. She also suggested punters should follow Excela Bella, who is entered for the Widden and also for a two-year-old race at Canterbury on Friday night.

“Total Babe has form around the best two-year-olds in the spring,’’ Waterhouse said.

“She has had more exposure than Excela Bella but they are both very talented fillies.

“They have both trialled very well and are above average. We will know if they are Golden Slipper chances after this weekend.’’

Arrowfield boss John Messara says the Golden Slipper could be the nation’s most important race from a breeding perspective.Source:Supplied

MESSARA AIMS FOR A THIRD GOLDEN SLIPPER

Arrowfield Stud’s John Messara maintains the Golden Slipper’s significance to Australian racing has not diminished despite the stakes surge of more valuable feature races in recent years.

“The Golden Slipper is one of our most important races and might even be the most important for the purposes of making a stallion,’’ Messara said.

“Australians have a preference for two-year-olds and for speed. This race is a very demanding race, you need a horse that is sound and fast, can stay the 1200m, is courageous, has strategic speed, and needs a good temperament

“Everything you look for in a good horse you need to win a Slipper so you always respect those colts who win the race. If you win a Golden Slipper, it is a big tick.’’

Messara has been a part-owner of two Golden Slipper winners, Miss Finland (2006) and Flying Spur (1995), and a breeder of a number of others including Estijaab (2018).

Unbeaten Remarque, a full brother to Estijaab, and promising filly Mallory are emerging as the owner-breeder’s best chances this season of winning another Golden Slipper.

The Team Hawkes-trained Remarque lived up to the hype on debut, scoring impressively at Randwick earlier this month and was elevated to the second line of Golden Slipper betting at $11 alongside Coolmore’s Acrobat and behind only Gimcrack Stakes winner Enthaar.

“Remarque had a few days off on the water walker after his Randwick win and has freshened up nicely,’’ Messara said.

“He came back into the stables earlier this week and is heading to the Silver Slipper.’’

Mallory, runner-up to Enthaar in the Gimcrack Stakes at her only start, is the $2.40 favourite to make a winning return to racing in the Group 3 $160,000 Widden Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Horse Racing: With only a few strides to go the heavily backed favorite has slammed on the brakes leaving punters heartbroken….

Horse Racing: With only a few strides to go the heavily backed favorite has slammed on the brakes leaving punters heartbroken.

Among Mallory’s Widden rivals is Total Babe, who ran third in the Gimcrack, while the winner of that race, Enthaar, is a long odds-on favourite to maintain her unbeaten record in the Chairman’s Stakes at Caulfield.

“We bred Mallory as a yearling and (trainer) Gerald Ryan really liked her,’’ Messara said.

“When we didn’t sell the filly and formed a syndicate to race her, I said we should give her to Gerald to train.

“She ran a nice race in the Gimcrack and has kept improving. We have aimed her at this race as the first step to bigger things if she can run well.’’

Originally published asSlipper still glitters despite sitting in stakes-war shadows

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