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Sunlight Puts The Slipper In With $98,000 'track gallop'

By Ray Hickson
At Rosehill Gardens

It was the $98,000 ‘final gallop’ that convinced trainer Tony McEvoy that classy filly Sunlight is ready for her Golden Slipper destiny.

As he watched the youngster walk around the Rosehill Gardens enclosure after making it five wins from six starts in the Group 3 $175,000 Canadian Club Magic Night Stakes (1200m), McEvoy was soon convinced Sunlight had done all she needed.

TAB immediately reacted to Sunlight’s win and she firmed from $4.00 to a dominant $3.50 favourite for the $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) on March 24.

Some 40 minutes later unbeaten colt Written By firmed to a $5 second favourite after a gritty win in the Group 3 $170,000 Insitu Pago Pago Stakes (1200m), his own $98,000 gallop in slightly faster time, but the day belonged to the filly just as it could in seven days.

“I’ve asked a lot of her but she has the ability to be able to handle it, not many can handle it,’’ McEvoy said.

Sunlight does it easily in the Magic Night Stakes at Rosehill Gardens

“Her lungs are very good and I’m really happy.

“It’s been an incredible journey, we’ve set out on this road and thank God we’ve just had a trouble free run and it’s very exciting.’’

History says Sunlight still has some hard work to do – no filly has completed the Magic Millions and Golden Slipper double and it’s been 25 years since Bint Marscay was the last Magic Night winner to back up a week later to victory.

McEvoy said Sunlight showed him all the signs of a potential Golden Slipper winner in what was basically a $98,000 track gallop.

She jumped quickly to the lead and jockey Luke Currie was able to fend off an early challenge from Setsuna before going for home and holding off Cristobal and Sweet Ava comfortably.

“I loved the way she pinged the gates, her timing was good,’’ he said.

“She controlled the race, got softened a but in the mid stages but the thing we’ve come to learn about this filly is she’s tough. You throw something at her and she will handle it.

“I factored this race into her preparation like we did at the Coast and I thought she just levelled late. But that’s okay, that’s the gallop she needed and that will bring her on.’’

Currie said Sunlight was a little keen and took a while to come back underneath once she found the lead but is adamant there’s improvement to come.

That’s an ominous sign seven days out from the grand final.

“She definitely needed it, she got tired late but she was softened up midrace and a bit on the fresh side,’’ he said.

“That should top her off.’’

Currie said the performance was equivalent to her win at the Gold Coast seven days prior to the Magic Millions with the one exception being that race was 1100m and she had 1200m to cover this time.

Attention now turns to the barrier draw on Tuesday morning at Rosehill and McEvoy said he’d like to draw inside 10 but not too close to the fence.

“If you draw really low there’s a bit of extra pressure on you to hunt up,’’ he said.

Sunlight clocked 1:10.74 and according to Punters Intel, a feature of that win was her first 200m which was run in 13.22 as she pounced on the early lead.

Just over half a second quicker was Written By, with trainer Grahame Begg also suggesting there’s plenty of upside to his unbeaten colt who ran his last 600m in 34.18 as opposed to Sunlight’s 35.02.

Written By was due to barrier trial on Tuesday, and not contest the Pago Pago, but when the trials were washed out Begg elected to send him around and he held off a determined Sandbar to win.

“We did a bit of work through the week with him, not as much as we should have done, and he has a bit of improvement in him,’’ he said.

“The second horse gave him a good race and they’ve run good time. I won’t have to do much with him now, just cool his heels.’’

Check out the replays and results for Rosehill Gardens

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