There are big days and there are big days. In Australian racing and breeding there is no more influential day than Golden Slipper day at Rosehill. The history and reputation of this being a race to make stallions was apparent from the very outset. The first edition, in 1957, was taken out by a colt named Todman, a son of the imported stallion Star Kingdom. Sent over from England, where he had been known as Star King in his guise as a smart sprinter, Star Kingdom and his progeny quickly made the Golden Slipper their very own. Todman was the first of an incredible five winners in a row for Star Kingdom, who was also Australian Champion sire of 2YOs seven times. Since then the race has been taken out by Champion stallions such as Marscay, Vain, Flying Spur and other important sires such as Luskin Star, Rory’s Jester, Marauding and Canny Lad – all great examples and progenitors of good Australian juvenile speed. More recently the race has been won by current top-class stallions Stratum and Sebring, while very recent winners Sepoy and Pierro are two of the most in-demand young stallions in the country. The 2013 and 2014 editions had passed without a colt winner, Overreach too speedy in 2013 and the first seven home all fillies in 2014, so it was pleasing to see a colt back on top this year. More than pleasing was the fact that the colt was JHB and Gai Waterhouse yearling purchase Vancouver, who followed up a devastating victory in the Todman Stakes with a pulsating Golden Slipper triumph this past Saturday.
Purchased for $185,000 at the 2014 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, Vancouver has done everything asked of him in increasingly impressive fashion to remain unbeaten in four starts, and to deal with a horror barrier (under an excellent Tommy Berry ride) of 18 with such aplomb marks this colt down as one cut from the very finest of cloths. Just as important is that it places Vancouver down as a stallion prospect who will be in high demand, with outstanding good looks and a top-class international pedigree to complement his exemplary race record. Honours go to a magnificent piece of training from Gai Waterhouse, who equalled her father T.J. Smith’s record of six Golden Slipper winners after the previous successes of Ha Ha (2001), Dance Hero (2004), Sebring (2008), Pierro (2012) and Overreach (2013). Plaudits also go to a fantastic group of owners who are enjoying every minute of the fantastic experience that this magnificent colt is providing them with – and a well deserved experience that is.
Saturday also saw, at last, a well-deserved Group 1 for fellow JHB and Gai Waterhouse Magic Millions purchase Sweet Idea. The former bridesmaid grabbed the bouquet in aggressive fashion to stun her rivals in the Galaxy, such an impressive win over 1100m first up surely the sign of a most productive preparation in store for the daughter of Snitzel. This was another top training performance from Gai to get this filly to begin her campaign in such impressive fashion. Despite this being her first Gr.1 victory, Sweet Idea’s career has highlighted just how lucrative it can be to race horses in the vibrant Australian environment at present. As befitting a filly as good-looking as she is, Sweet Idea was by no means a cheap yearling at $240,000, but her purchase price pales in comparison to what she has now earned on the track. Saturday’s win took her earnings up to an incredible $2,415,350 for a filly who has only twice in her life finished out of the first four. Congratulations to her ownership group who have had a fantastic run with this filly and one which looks well set to continue.