By Ray Hickson
Jockey Luke Currie is expecting Golden Slipper favourite Sunlight’s grip on the world’s richest two-year-old race to tighten after Saturday’s Group 3 $175,000 Canadian Club Magic Night Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens.
After a dramatic past weekend where Performer threw Hugh Bowman and Estijaab drifted in betting despite winning all eyes will be on Sunlight at her second Sydney start.
Currie wasn’t on board when the filly downed Estijaab in the Silver Slipper on February 24 but made a trip to Sydney to gallop Sunlight in preparation for Saturday’s race.
“It was nice to have a spin on her. She hasn’t gone backwards, it looks like she might have thickened up a bit but I think her weight is similar,’’ Currie said.
“She’s had the perfect preparation thus far. She’s done everything that Tony (McEvoy) has asked her to do and followed his plan.
Sunlight winning the Silver Slipper Stakes at Rosehill on February 24
“A lot of those good chances have had small hiccups in their prep whereas she hasn’t. She’s deservedly favourite, we’ll see what she does this weekend and whether she holds it.
“Written By is probably having a run (in the Pago Pago) where they probably didn’t want to run and we all saw what happened to Performer.
“I wouldn’t be swapping her for anything else in the race.’’
McEvoy reported during the week that Sunlight weighed in at 508kg before the Silver Slipper, 500kg after it and had packed on 9kg in the two weeks since.
Sunlight’s presence in the Magic Night, given her place as $4.00 Golden Slipper favourite with TAB, is interesting given the race’s history as a guide to the feature.
The last Magic Night winner to take out the Slipper was Bint Marscay in 1993 though in recent years both Tulip (2017) and Bring Me The Maid (2014) have run third on the back up.
Calaway Gal, the 2002 Slipper winner, ran second to Victory Vein in the Magic Night before turning the tables seven days later.
Currie, who is yet to have a Golden Slipper ride, was in Melbourne when Sunlight won the Silver Slipper with Tim Clark in the saddle.
Clark is committed to Santos for the $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m).
Great to see such a special bond shared between Sunlight and strapper Sarah. pic.twitter.com/7xd2KZxfdK
— McEvoy Mitchell R (@mcevoymitchell) March 12, 2018
The Silver Slipper only featured five horses but it was an intriguing battle with Estijaab, subsequent Reisling Stakes winner, being softened up midrace allowing Sunlight an ideal sit on their backs.
Punters Intel data showed Sunlight ran easily the fastest last 600m of the race in 33.65 and reeled off the fastest sections from the 400m and the 200m.
“I thought if she was going to get beaten she’d get beaten going into that because she hadn’t done a lot since the Magic Millions,’’ Currie said.
“I supposed it was helped with Estijaab getting softened up, which made her vulnerable as well, but I thought she was very good off that quick tempo even though she had the nice sit on them.’’
Currie said he was impressed with how Sunlight bounced through her Silver Slipper win, her first run since the Magic Millions in mid-January, and is adamant she’ll benefit from the quick back-up as she did at the Gold Coast.
“With a lot of two-year-olds you have them one day and have had enough the next but she seems to thrive with her racing,’’ he said.
“Every time she has run she improved off the back of it. I know how good she is but it was good to get on and get that feel again and give me the confidence going into this race.’’