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Widdup Raising The Bar On Slipper Hope

By Ray Hickson

Trainer Brad Widdup is realistic about the Golden Slipper prospects of unbeaten youngster Sandbar but is hoping to be forced into a reassessment after Saturday’s Group 2 $200,000 Skyline Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.

Sandbar is rated a $26 chance with TAB but the colt still has to earn his way there in Widdup’s eyes.

When asked where he felt Sandbar sat in the Slipper scheme, the Hawkesbury trainer was frank.

“Where he is in the market. He’d have to come out and win well for something like that to change,’’ he said.

“Obviously horses like Sunlight and Performer, they are the top picks. They are in the right stables, they know what they are doing.’’

Sandbar is currently 20th in the Slipper order of entry following his gutsy win in the Lonhro Plate at Warwick Farm and he pleased Widdup with a gallop between races last Saturday.


Sandbar's game win in the Lonhro Plate at Warwick Farm on February 10.

He said it was a worthwhile exercise with the final 600m of the 1000m gallop in winkers, which he hasn’t worn to the races as yet, timed at 35.02.

“I just wanted to make sure he wasn’t above himself and see how he pulled up and everything seemed good,’’ he said.

“He wore winkers because I wanted to make sure he did enough work, at some stage I will have headgear on him.

“It will be three weeks between runs, I wanted to get him away from Hawkesbury for a day at the races and he handled it really well. I don’t have to worry about Rosehill, he seems to be in the right frame of mind.’’

In the Lonhro Plate, Sandbar clocked a last 600m of 34.62 (Punters Intel) and showed fight in the last 200m, running 11.65, fending off Gimcrack Stakes winner Satin Slipper.

Among Sandbar’s rivals on Saturday will be impressive Pierro Plate winner Santos, Exceltic, Irish Bet, Legend Of Condor, Zousain and Spin.

While he doesn’t have to meet the likes of Performer until Slipper day, if he gets there, Widdup said the Skyline will provide plenty of information about the colt’s path.

“He’s sort of flown under the radar a bit, probably because his trials only looked fair,’’ he said.

“I think if he comes out and races well again that will change. He’s got a great attitude and obviously has ability and next start will tell us if he’s a Slipper horse or he might be better at 1400m.’’

Check out the entries, form and replays for Royal Randwick on Saturday

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