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Tulloch Lodge Youngsters Ready To Storm Slipper

It's been the season of Tulloch Lodge when it comes to the two-year-olds and with six runners in the field for the Group 1 $5m TAB Golden Slipper (1200m), co-trainer says it's important to the team that they come away with the "big one".

Trainers : Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott (Australia)
Trainers : Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott (Australia) Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable has won a staggering 21 two-year-old races so far in 2023/24 and many would argue with ruling favourite Storm Boy heading the charge they're in the box seat.

Among the two-year-old haul this season has been a trifecta in the Breeders' Plate, the Golden Gift, Magic Millions, Widden Stakes, Canonbury Stakes, Inglis Millennium, Silver Slipper and Skyline Stakes.

That guarantees nothing when it comes to the Golden Slipper but Bott said Storm Boy is heading a strong group of youngsters to chase the partnership's second Slipper after Farnan in 2020, and an eighth for Waterhouse.

In any other year horses like Shangri La Express, Straight Charge, Lady Of Camelot, Prost, Fully Lit or emergency Espionage would be considered major players in a Slipper such has been the hype around Storm Boy.

"To an extent that consistent record through the year can become irrelevant without winning the big one,'' Bott said.

"This is the race we really want to win, no doubt. I'd like to think these horses are all here presenting at their best, coming through their right paths."

Given the dominance and with six runners, possibly seven if Espionage gains a start, there's a strong chance the stable could emulate Gai Waterhouse's trifecta of 2001.

If he does enter the field, it will equal the record number of runners for a stable in a Golden Slipper. Back in 2003 John Hawkes saddled up seven horses in the race but didn't fill a placing.

Bott said Storm Boy has done everything right since he made his debut back in early December and has the physicality that makes him an exceptional two-year-old.

"Physically you've only got to look at him to realise he's that different class,'' he said.

"He's very imposing and certainly stands out in that regard. He's been more mature and more forward than his peers, he's got the speed to go with that and a great constitution and will to win.

"He's been involved in some high pressure races and arguably that was where he was at his best.

"We saw him being very good there last start, he had things relatively his own way but he's the type of horse that thrives on those conditions."

The Justify colt, purchased back by Coolmore in a deal that could be worth up to $60 million depending on results in the next few weeks, was $2.10 with TAB after drawing barrier two.

Since his comfortable win in the Skyline Stakes (1200m) three weeks ago he's had an exhibition gallop between races last week and when Ryan Moore is legged aboard he'll have had the preparation the stable wanted.

Waterhouse's 2004 Slipper winner Dance Hero, also a Magic Millions winner, is the last Skyline winner to take out the Slipper and Storm Boy's preparation has been modelled on that youngster's successful road.

"He was very good in the Magic Millions and from that point we were able to piece together his path to the Slipper,'' Bott said.

"I thought he went into the Skyline with good improvement and he looks to have taken that.

"I'd probably much prefer to see him on top of the ground, naturally he has such brilliance and speed and that's where they can showcase it best.

"He's had some experience in the soft conditions so that gives you some comfort knowing he's handled it before."

Adrian Bott on Shangri La Express: "He's been able to build and improve nicely at each stage of his preparation. He's the one horse with the luxury of having his entire preparation knowing he's already qualified for this race after winning the Golden Gift. He didn't need to be fully at his peak for the Pierro Plate or his run in the Todman, he's been able to perform to expectation in each of those races and there's nice improvement for him off the back of that."

On Fully Lit: "I thought he would improve off that run at Canberra, he was a month between races and off a soft trial. It's his first real prep so the challenge is there to keep him up to the mark without doing too much before he got here."

On Straight Charge: "He was enormous the other day. He's a horse that maybe his talent is underrated. He's got a brilliant racing pattern, great natural speed and he's a tough horse, he's hard to run down. I expect that to be the same case on Saturday, he's the horse they're going to have to catch."

On Prost: "He's had a great lead-up, he's been excellent in every start to date. He came out and won the Canonbury in impressive fashion then had four weeks between runs and resumes behind Storm Boy in what was an excellent run as well. He's been open to improvement, he flies under the radar a bit but he's well and truly got his fair share of talent."

On Lady Of Camelot: "This is her second campaign so she's got some good grounding there. She had a nice trial at Hawkesbury where I thought she showed some good versatility, she settled really well which allowed her to quicken up nicely. She's one of the sharpest horses we've got going into this race so if she can conserve that in the run she could be very effective."

On Espionage: "Hopefully he can get in, he does probably need a few things to go his way and we saw in the Todman they didn't. It's probably a cruel set of circumstances how that ultimately effects his chances of being in the race. He's got plenty of talent, plenty of natural ability, comes through the right formlines and he's a really nice colt no doubt."

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