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Opinion: Does The Slipper Still Fit Performer?

By Brad Gray

Performer’s narrow victory in Saturday’s G3 Canonbury Stakes (1100m) has divided punters.

Immediately after the race, TAB kept Performer at $8 for the Golden Slipper, on the second line of betting behind Sunlight at $6.

“The performance itself seemed adequate in a very slowly run race with not much to spare over a first starter, although it was the fastest last 600 for the day,” explained senior TAB bookmaker Peter Todd.

“The subsequent performances of Bondi have placed a small question mark over the Breeders’ Plate form.”

Two punters in particular disagreed with that sentiment, since plonking $5000 at $8 and $10,000 at $7.50 on Performer to take out the Golden Slipper which has forced his quote into $7 with TAB.

Punters’ Intel reveals exactly how slow the early tempo was before the race turned into a 400m dash home. It’s here where Performer displayed his star qualities with stunning late splits of 10.62s and 10.67s for the 400-200 and then 200m-home.

Daniel O’Sullivan, a professional punter who heads up BetSmart, says the Exceed And Excel colt did nothing to harm his chances heading towards the world's richest two-year-old race.

“He rated a length behind his Breeders’ Plate win which was okay because that was particularly strong,” O’Sullivan said.

“The key thing to take note of from the race on Saturday is that it was so terribly slowly run. The speed to the 600m was ridiculously slow. Very rarely do we see any race run that slowly and even then from the 600m they still didn’t increase the speed a great deal.

“The quality of his last 400m was top class for a two-year-old. It was phenomenal. You don’t often see races run like that so they are hard to benchmark but in an absolute speed sense, his 400m split looks very, very smart.

Performer beating Stratosphere in the Canonbury (Pic: Steve Hart)

“I don’t think it took any gloss off him. If pushed, I’d say yes he is still my top seed. It was certainly an unusual race and that adds a trick to understating the merit.”

Widden Stakes-winner Fiesta, who O’Sullivan rates only a second tier Slipper contender, clocked a significantly faster overall time than her stablemate but O’Sullivan suggests punters use the uncommon circumstances around the Canonbury as a learning curve.

“The race is a really good case for people who tend to focus a lot on overall times. It is always important to put it into the context of the early speed. They went so ridiculously slow that they had zero opportunity to run anything like a respectful overall time,” explained O’Sullivan.

Chris Waller indicated that Performer wouldn't be seen again until the Todman Stakes on March 10, following an identical Slipper preparation to that of Vancouver in 2015. Performer is expected to be presented with an entirely different race shape there with Tony Gollan targeting Queensland speedster Ef Troop at the race.

The narrow margin and slow overall time of Performer’s Canonbury win were flamed further by Kerrin McEvoy’s innocuous post-race comment that Performer didn’t give him the “normal Slipper-like feel” but claims since that Performer’s win was tradesman-like are off the mark.

Stick with him.

Check out the nominations, form and replays for Warwick Farm on Saturday.

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