By Ray Hickson
The market says he’s already in the top five, but co-trainer Adrian Bott is looking to Santos to really stamp his Golden Slipper credentials at Randwick on Saturday.
Santos is clearly Gai Waterhouse’s best chance of a seventh Slipper success, and her first since the training partnership with Bott started, so a lot rides on his performance in the Group 2 $200,000 Skyline Stakes (1200m).
The colt is a $10 chance with TAB for the world’s richest two-year-old race, just three weeks away, behind Sunlight, Estijaab, Performer and Written By.
“In our eyes he needs to take that step on Saturday but if he can do that, and we expect he can, then he has to come into the top Slipper calculations,’’ Bott said.
“Hopefully he can go in on the right note.’’
TAB opened Santos at $2 in the Skyline, a race that hasn’t produced a Slipper winner since Stratum in 2005 or placegetter since Manhattan Rain ran third in 2009.
Santos returns with a dominant win at Randwick on February 17
Bott said there’s been noticeable improvement in Santos since his brilliant first-up win in the Pierro Plate, where Punters Intel data showed he ran 33.93 for his last 600m and put the final furlong away in a race best 11.57.
“He resumed with a very strong win in my opinion,’’ Bott said.
“He sat outside a strong speed and was able to quicken off that, he should be better suited stepping up to the 1200m.
“There's been definite improvement, moreso mentally than anything. He was a bit fresh but he's relaxed a bit with the run and understands what it's about.’’
Stablemate Setsuna has the chance to lay down her Slipper claims first-up in the Group 2 $200,000 Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m).
The filly debuted with a close second in the Gimcrack Stakes then won successive races in the Melbourne spring and Bott said she’s done everything right ahead of her return.
“She's a real determined little filly, there's not a huge amount of her but she has strengthened up from where she was last prep,’’ he said.
“She's trialled nicely and her work has been very pleasing. The 1200m first-up will be the test for her, she hasn't been stretched out that far previously but I'm sure she will see that out.’’
Setsuna is $26 with TAB in the Slipper and opened $6.50 for Saturday’s race.
Comments from Adrian Bott on the stable’s other Randwick runners:
Arbeitsam ($7.50, Liverpool City Cup): “He had a nice trial and his work since has been excellent. We're trying to target him towards the Doncaster and this is the first step towards that.’’
Stampede ($17, G1 Chipping Norton): “It's a stepping stone to what's to come. The result first-up was a little disappointing but reflecting on the race we weren't disappointed with the run itself. It was always going to be short of his best and he was out of his comfort zone for the majority.’’
Shumookh ($4.20, G1 Surround): “We will be suited stepping up to the 1400m the 1200m we thought might have been a little short for her but we were delighted with the result. She sat three wide and was still able to let down with a strong finish. She's improving on each occasion and she looks primed.
“She will have to be at her very best and improve again to turn the tables (on Alizee) but we've seen improvement in her and hopefully that's enough.’’