Sunlight set to turn up the heat
SYDNEY'S form jockey Tim Clark has the opportunity to gain some valuable "intelligence" on Golden Slipper favourite Sunlight when he rides the brilliant filly at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Clark is deputising for regular jockey Luke Currie when Sunlight makes her Sydney debut in the Group 2 $250,000 TAB Silver Slipper Stakes (11000m).
Currie is riding at the Group 1 Blue Diamond meeting at Caulfield but is expected to regain the ride on Sunlight for the $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on March 24.
The Tony McEvoy-trained Sunlight, runaway winner of the Magic Millions last start, takes on a small but select field of juveniles on Saturday that includes five unbeaten youngsters - Estijaab, Neutrality, Zousain, Gongs and Sizzling Belle.
"Sunlight is the benchmark two-year-old at the moment, she has the score on the board,'' Clark said. "But we will know a lot more after (Saturday) with the Silver Slipper and Blue Diamond Stakes (at Caulfield).''
Sunlight is the ruling favourite at $6 with TAB Fixed Odds for the Golden Slipper on March 24 but, surprisingly, she is not at the top of betting for the Silver Slipper.
Estijaab, the unbeaten Team Hawkes-trained filly is the $2.60 Silver Slipper favourite with Sunlight at $2.80.
"It is interesting that Sunlight has not come up as favourite, probably that is a little bit of the Sydney horse (Estijaab) sort of thing,'' Clark said. "I rode Sunlight in her gallop (Wednesday) morning where she produced a nice bit of work without going 'silly'.
"She feels great, she is in good shape with a little bit of improvement to come but she is well and truly forward enough to run very, very well (Saturday).''
Clark will get a valuable insight into Sunlight's ability in the Silver Slipper just a week after he partnered his likely Golden Slipper mount, Santos to an impressive Pierro Plate win.
"I thought Santos was very good the other day,'' Clark said.
"He has to get through another run first in either the Skyline Stakes or Todman Stakes then hopefully connections will stick with me for the Golden Slipper.
"But I'm looking forward to riding Sunlight. I did run second to her on Terminology at the Gold Coast last month and from where I was sitting she was ultra-impressive.
"I thought on the back of that win, how are they going to beat her in the Magic Millions, and there weren't able to. When I rode her at trackwork she looked like she has got a bit stronger even though the Magic Millions was not that long ago.''
Clark, who rode four winners at Randwick last Saturday, has another very good book of rides at Rosehill, including Trapeze Artist in a star-studded Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
Trapeze Artist, winner of the Group 1 Golden Rose over the Rosehill 1400m course last spring, resumed with a dominant Expressway Stakes win earlier this month and is rated second favourite at $3.90 for the Hobartville behind boom Godolphin colt Kementari ($2.30).
Snowden looks for Silver lining
"I couldn't have picked a harder race if I tried!"
This was trainer Peter Snowden's lament after studying Neutrality's opposition for the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes. The two-year-olds' feature has attracted only seven starters but it shapes as a cracking juvenile race with Neutrality among five unbeaten youngsters going up against Golden Slipper favourite Sunlight and first starter Knievel.
"Every one of these horses are genuine Golden Slipper contenders,'' Snowden said. "Even (trainer) Greg Hickman's colt (Knievel) trialled enormous the other day.
"This is a very, very strong race - there is nowhere to hide now.
"Even the midweeks two-year-old races are coming up tough.''
Snowden, an acknowledged master trainer of two-year-olds and a two-time Golden Slipper winner with Sepoy (2011) and Capitalist (2016), conceded Saturday's race will be a thorough test for Neutrality.
"I've got an open mind Neutrality up against these class horses so we are going to find out more about him,'' Snowden said.
Neutrality, a son of 2008 Golden Slipper winner Sebring, could not have been more impressive on debut, romping home an easy two lengths winner at Rosehill last November.
Snowden has given Neutrality two barrier trials including an easy win over 1045m at Randwick last week to prepare for his return.
"He's definitely a speed horse, he's a nice colt going forward,'' Snowden said. "I've been happy with what he has done so far, he has trialled nicely and his work has been good since.''
Snowden, who trains in partnership with son Paul, also concedes his stable representatives, Assimilate and Brave Song, will need to be at their absolute best to figure in the finish of a top quality Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m).
Brave Song (third) and Assimilate (fourth) were well beaten by Kementari and Siege Of Quebec in the Eskimo Prince Stakes at Warwick Farm two weeks ago and the Snowden duo clash with those two colts plus the likes of Trapeze Artist, Ace High, Pierata and D'Argento on Saturday.
"Assimilate has no gate speed, he just can't keep up early,'' Snowden said. "He needs time to find his stride but I thought he ran great first-up to make up so much ground.
"He has drawn the inside gate which means he will probably be worse than midfield on the fence so he needs a bit of luck. I'm sure he will be hitting the line hard.
"Brave Song gets all the favours from his barrier (two) and he is an improver. He's a relaxed horse with a short, sharp turn of foot. This is obviously a very tough race but I believe Assimilate and Brave Song are genuine chances.''
Meanwhile, Snowden reported The Everest winner Redzel has settled back into his routine at Randwick after a narrow first-up loss to Redkirk Warrior in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington last week.
"Redzel was back home on Monday and is doing everything right,'' Snowden said. "He came through the Lightning well and at this stage he is heading towards the (Group 2 $500,000) Challenge Stakes (Randwick, March 10)."