All four of Godolphin’s Golden Slipper Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) hopefuls fared well at yesterday’s barrier draw but Gai Waterhouse’s favourite, Vancouver (Medaglia d’Oro), will have to overcome being drawn in barrier 18 if he is to keep his unbeaten record in tact.
— ANZ Bloodstock News

Speaking to ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday, Godolphin’s racing manager, Jason Walsh, could barely disguise his delight after Furnaces (Exceed And Excel), Haptic (Exceed And Excel), Ottoman (Exceed And Excel) and Exosphere (Lonhro) were drawn in barriers one, three, eight and ten respectively.

Walsh also confirmed Furnaces, who chased home Vancouver in second place at his most recent start in the Todman Stakes (Gr 2, 1200m), would be fitted with winkers in a bid to bring out the best of the colt.

“We are very pleased with how the barrier draw has gone for us,” Walsh said. “To have four runners in the Golden Slipper and have them all draw towards the inside half of the field is fantastic. They should all get their chance from those positions. All is well with Furnaces and John has elected to add winkers to try and get him to improve those extra couple of lengths he needs on the favourite and hopefully travel stronger on the bit for longer. He’s drawn a good barrier in one and we expect him to be right up there on the speed. He’s made all the necessary improvement at home and hopefully the winkers can get that extra bit out of him on Saturday.”

Both Haptic and Exosphere worked yesterday morning and Walsh believes both will take improvement from a break, neither having raced since last month.

Haptic has got a beautiful draw and it should allow him to sit right up on the speed as well,” Walsh said. “He’s an unassuming type of horse; he’s done everything right so far and he presents nicely off a good freshen up. He worked very well with Exosphere this morning and we are very confident he can make his presence felt in the closing stages this weekend. Exosphere is making very good progress towards the race and has been kept fresh - he seems to have benefitted from that. His draw should allow him to get some cover, which he needs and finish down the centre of the course. It is the perfect draw for Ottoman too, that will allow her to get some cover early on. We’ve always had a very high opinion of her and Jason thinks he’s never had her better.”

This year’s Golden Slipper is the first since Darley horses began racing under the Godolphin banner in Australia and the performances of many of Sheikh Mohammed’s juveniles has been a feature of the current season.

Walsh said: “It is our first Golden Slipper with Godolphin as a permanent presence, so to have four runners for Sheikh Mohammed is very exciting for everyone here.”

Two of Godolphin’s runners, Haptic and Ottoman, will be partnered by international jockeys with James Doyle taking the mount on the former and William Buick engaged for the latter. The pair have taken up retained rider positions with Godolphin in the UK this year and Walsh said both are excited to be part of this year’s Golden Slipper.

“We have all three of Godolphin’s retained riders engaged in the race and William and James are very excited to be involved,” he said. “They have had a great couple of weeks in Australia and we are very excited to have two world class riders on board for what is a world class juvenile race.”

Gai Waterhouse refused to be downbeat after Vancouver drew widest of all but one but the unbeaten favourite has an unenviable task if he is to become his trainer’s record-equalling sixth winner of the race.

“I never worry about barriers, everyone knows that. There’s nothing you can do about them,” Waterhouse said.

Tulloch Lodge’s two other representatives, English (Encosta De Lago) and Speak Fondly (Northern Meteor) will jump from barriers six and 12 respectively.

Co-trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig enjoyed mixed fortunes at yesterday’s draw, as the Cinderella Stakes (Listed, 1050m) winner Haybah (More Than Ready) drew handily in barrier two, while the Blue Diamond Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) second Reemah (Redoute’s Choice) was handed barrier 15.

“Haybah’s draw is good, she will hopefully get a good run from there,” Hayes and Dabernig’s bloodstock manager, Jason Timperley, told ANZ Bloodstock News. “Reemah has performed well from a wide barrier in the Blue Diamond but we are going to need a bit of luck on Saturday. “In a race like this, you always need a bit of luck and for things to go your way but we are happy with both our horses going into the race and hopefully we can get a good result.”

Elsewhere, the Team Hawkes-trained Silver Slipper (Gr 2, 1100m) winner Headwater (Exceed And Excel) will jump from barrier 11 under jockey Glen Boss as he bids to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Todman Stakes, while Odyssey Moon (Snitzel), the mount of Ryan Moore, has been drawn in barrier 13.

Both Headwater and Odyssey Moon, like all but two of their potential rivals, carry strains of Danehill (Danzig) in their pedigree. In fact, only English and the Clarry Conners-trained Look To The Stars (I Am Invincible) are runners that are free of Danehill, who has sired the winner of the race five times since 1994.

In addition, a further five winners have been by sons of Danehill, including Overreach, who took out the 2013 renewal for Coolmore’s Exceed And Excel. He is this year represented by six runners and is also the broodmare sire of Haybah.

Extract from ANZ Bloodstock News