Slipper pressure could be golden key for King’s Gambit

The hustle and bustle nature of a Golden Slipper is finally going to give King’s Gambit and Don Corleone the chance to show their talent as they race for the big prize at Rosehill on Saturday.

Co-trainer Paul Snowden told Newgate boss Henry Field a couple of months ago that it would not be until Golden Slipper day that his colts finally get their chance to shine.

King’s Gambit wins the Debutant Stakes where the speed let him show his talent. Credit:Getty

“I said to him after they got beat that they will not be suited until they get in a big field with a decent tempo and that will be Golden Slipper day, so not to worry,” Snowden said. “It is also when they will be at their best for the grand final.

“There is going to be pressure on Saturday and nearly every two-year-old race this season has been lacking a fair bit of that because of small fields.

“They have gone control speed in all the lead-ups and there hasn’t been a race with a free-flowing speed that would suit King’s Gambit and Don Corleone.

“When King’s Gambit got that in Melbourne [in the Debutant Stakes] they made him Slipper favourite.”

The sprints home were the undoing of King’s Gambit and Don Corleone as odds-on favourites, but that hasn’t dulled Snowden’s confidence.

Empire Of Japan adds another string to the Snowden and Newgate bow and his win in the Breeders’ Plate, the only time Snowden can remember a testing tempo, was outstanding.

“He enjoyed the gallop that day and can run a race as well,” Snowden said. “Our three colts will all relish good tempo and they have all drawn well.

“To get two, six and seven with three horses in the Golden Slipper, it doesn’t get any better than that. The other thing is all the speed has been drawn out wide, so they will get running.

Don Corleone is rated a $10 chance in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.Credit:Racing Photos

“I think King’s Gambit is probably the best of them, but he hasn’t been able to show it in the lead-up.”

King’s Gambit was the early Slipper favourite after the Debutant romp at Caulfield in the spring, but being beaten by Red Resistance in the Canonbury Stakes and then a third behind Cylinder in the Silver Slipper resulted in a similar path to Rosehill to those of his stablemates.

A slowdown in the middle stages before a sizzling gallop home didn’t suit the I Am Invincible colt, who is still learning, but he did show off his top-end speed. Snowden believes he just needs pressure to be able to travel.

The Snowdens realised he would get a similarly run affair in the Todman Stakes, so decided on a trial, bringing his Golden Slipper jockey Mark Zahra to Sydney and adding a noseroll to King’s Gambit’s gear.

Breeders Plate winner Empire of Japan completes the three-pronged Snowden attack.Credit:Getty

“He is still learning and he learned more in that trial than he would have in the Todman,” Snowden said.

The high-head carriage of King’s Gambit’s two autumn runs was gone in the trial and his massive motor purred as he put a gap in less-credentialed rivals, even after being held up.

“We wanted to get Mark to ride him in the trial because he has great hands and can get horses to travel,” Snowden said. “He had a noseband, which helped, and he has had it on in his work since and will carry on in the Golden Slipper.

“There was tempo in that trial with 10 runners, which also helped him. The big thing was he relaxed and you saw what he could do when he does that.

“The pressure of the Slipper isn’t going to worry him and with the right run he will do something similar.”

Don Corleone went from his Sydney failure to just failing to run down Little Brose in the Blue Diamond and Snowden was delighted to see him draw in the centre of the field.

“The inside gate was no good to him in the Blue Diamond. He is a horse that needs time to go through his gears and he couldn’t do that among horses,” Snowden said. “I was so happy to get a middle draw because he will have room to get to top gear.

“He got out late in Melbourne and just missed. I don’t think that will happen to him on Saturday, he should get a clear shot at them.”

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