By Ray Hickson
Trainer Tony McEvoy says he has the utmost respect for the Sydney two-year-old form as his outstanding filly Sunlight steps up her Golden Slipper preparation at Rosehill on Saturday.
Sunlight, the Magic Millions winner, is the $6 favourite with TAB for the world’s richest two-year-old event and that status goes on the line against the likes of Estijaab, Gongs and Neutrality in the Group 2 $250,000 TAB Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m).
McEvoy said Sunlight, who opened $2.60 for Saturday's race, is clearly the pick of his two-year-old crop and would be top elect if she were running in the Blue Diamond this weekend but he’s not taking the Silver Slipper for granted.
“My summation of the Melbourne two-year-olds, without being disrespectful, is they are an even bunch but there's nothing that’s really stood the hairs up on the back of our necks,’’ McEvoy said.
“I think the Slipper would be another level.
“In Sydney, the Hawkes filly (Estijaab) has been impressive, the unbeaten Gongs has been impressive, the one of Gai’s the other day (Santos) looked pretty damn good to me.’’
The last two fillies to win the Silver Slipper have also won the Golden Slipper – She Will Reign last year and Mossfun in 2014.
Sunlight had what McEvoy calls a ‘sweeten up’ back home following the Magic Millions then travelled to Sydney where she’s been based at Warwick Farm.
The trainer was on hand on Wednesday morning to watch the filly go through her paces with race day jockey Tim Clark on board and left satisfied she’s where he wants her.
“I was very happy with what I saw,’’ he said.
“She’s going into this fresh after having a sweeten up. Tim jumped on her and we gave her a gallop on the course proper. She was wide out on her own, a bit lost of course, but she did enough and I am very happy where she’s at.
“She’ll probably be a little bit vulnerable, she’ll run a competitive race don’t worry but she’ll be improved because her grand final is another month away.
“I can’t have her screwed right down now but I wouldn’t be running her if she wasn’t going to run well.’’
It’s a bit rare for a two-year-old considered a Slipper chance to have already had four starts by February but McEvoy said rare is an apt description of his filly.
He said from about her third ever gallop he worked out she was a horse that relished her workload and that was evidenced by the bold move to run her a week prior to the Magic Millions then back up in the feature.
And that’s what he’ll be doing with Sunlight in Sydney too as she’ll head to the Magic Night Stakes at Rosehill on March 17, a week before the Slipper.
“She’s just wanted more, I could never give her enough work,’’ he said.
“A lot would go and lay down or not eat but she absolutely thrived. If you look at her in the yard on Saturday you’ll see what I mean, she’s a gross filly.
“She’s as good as the colts and she gets 2kg weight relief so it’s a big bonus when you have a filly like her.
“She needs a gallop a week and that race a week before the Slipper allows me to taper her for the seven days into the grand final.’’