Group 1 Golden Slipper Preview 2023

We look at the key chances from a ratings perspective in Saturday's $5 million Golden Slipper.

The pinnacle of two-year-old racing in Australia with the richest purse on offer for two-year-olds worldwide at $5 million takes place at Rosehill Gardens this Saturday.

While the famed (and fake) 'Slipper Curse' has seen no horse win again since taking out the race, I can guarantee every owner, trainer and jockey was ectastic to win the race and will be trying their hardest this year.

Big money and full fields often equal big pressure with Slippers almost never run at slow tempos and that will be the case again here, but despite that fact, horses back in the field (as in almost every race) struggle.

Cylinder is the early (and rightful) favourite although has drifted early, out to 3-1 off the back of wins in both the Silver Slipper and Todman Stakes. The Todman has proven a fantastic lead up in recent years with the last five male winners of the race having come through that race, with Pierro ('12), Vancouver ('15) and Farnan ('20) doing the double.

He ran to a new peak of 115 by Timeform's scale last start which is the highest rating performance of any two-year-old this season by 1 pound- ahead of Little Brose and Steel City at 114.

He's had every favour in both wins and while he draws softly again, I don't think there's much between him and some of his key rivals. 3-1 looks a shade of unders in a wide open race.

Steel City, with her 4lbs sex allowance effectively takes her to 118 however and I think she presents the best value. Completely luckless in the Blue Diamond, her early form is around the right horses and she put it all together last start with a dominant win.

She'll put herself in the race despite the wide barrier and I feel had she drawn in she wouldn't be double figures.

Speaking of unlucky runs in the Blue Diamond, Don Corleone found himself in a hopeless position, held up back in the field before running the race-fastest last 2 f and second-fastest last 1 f. As you'd expect, that was a new peak performance for him at 110 and it's not unreasonable to suggest he'd have won with a better run.

The one I have to take on is Learning To Fly. She's unbeaten in three starts but is yet to put up a performance worthy of being second pick in a Slipper. She ran to 106 on debut and in two runs since she's only managed to peak at 109 last start when winning the Riesling.

Her overall time was 0.29 seconds slower than Cylinder winning the Todman and her last 3 f was some 1.6 seconds slower than his on the same day. She beat Facile by a nose and that filly is 40-1 here. Even if you take their SP's into account (Learning To Fly started ~2.5x shorter than Facile), she's now 6.3x shorter than her for a 0.1L defeat.

And in another perfect segue, Red Resistance had the SP over Cylinder in the Todman having started $2.10 to his $2.90. He was fresh off a five week break there and just felt the pinch late. He's drawn wide but again, we're getting double figures and with 2 1⁄2 f to the first time I think he's quick enough to find the top. You'd be brave to write off Gai winning her eighth Slipper and have him find the extra length or two to beat Cylinder.

For Steel City, Don Corleone, Facile and Red Resistance all provide some level of value in the race and given they take up just ~29% of the market, I'm happy to back them all.

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