By Ray Hickson
If you’d have asked trainer Peter Snowden back in September which two-year-old in his stable had Golden Slipper written all over them he’d have said, with little hesitation, Kalashnikov.
If you asked him a month later it would surely have been a different youngster after the colt let the side down in his first two starts.
But the Snowden partnership staged something of a resurrection and Kalashnikov takes his place in the Group 1 $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m), alongside stablemate Captivant, at Rosehill with a maiden win against older horses and a strong Group 3 Black Opal Stakes victory to his name.
“Right from day one we thought this was our best two-year-old, our most precocious, he looked a racy type so it was disappointing to see what he did at his first couple of starts,’’ Snowden said.
“It was just too soon for him. When the gates opened his head went off and a pumpkin went on, he was doing things we wasn’t doing at home or in the trials.
“We tipped him back out, freshened him with a view to concentrating on getting him to settle.”
Peter Snowden trained his first Slipper winner in 2011 with Sepoy, the last youngster to claim the Blue Diamond-Golden Slipper double, and combined with his son Paul to win with Capitalist, the sire of both their Slipper runners, in 2016.
A Black Opal winner hasn’t won a Golden Slipper since Catbird in 1999 so that’s a fair bit of history against Kalashnikov but Snowden points out his trajectory at the moment is up.
“It might have been a maiden but the way he won it and how strong he was late was the turning point,’’ he said.
“To go on and frank it again, and run really good time, the next start tells us he’s on the right path.
“There’s good speed around him, Stay Inside has drawn three and the leader (Profiteer) has drawn five, so they are going to jump and we’ll get a spot following those speed horses. He’ll give himself every chance.”
The longest priced Golden Slipper winner in the last 40 years is shared by Kiamichi (2019), Phelan Ready (2009) and Flying Spur (1995) all at $26.
Both Kalashnikov and Captivant are $51 chances with TAB.
Captivant is the more experienced on wet tracks of the Snowden duo, via a fourth in the Golden Gift on a soft 6 and first-up third in the Group 2 Skyline Stakes, but his major goal is to emulate recently retired stablemate King’s Legacy when the carnival moves to Randwick next month.
“They are going to go quick and we will ride him back to get home with a view to the Sires’ and Champagne,’’ Snowden said.
“They are the right races for him but he has worked well enough to say he’s not going to be out of this race.
Kalashnikov wins the Black Opal on March 7
“I was going to run him last week but I’m glad I didn’t because it was just so hot and it would be very hard to back him up. We’re in the right rhythm and he will run really well but I think the Sires’ and the Champagne are going to be the races for him after this.”
Snowden is prepared to forgive Captivant’s third behind O’President two weeks ago concluding the blinkers going on worked against him. He’ll wear winkers in the Slipper.
“He probably didn’t need the blinkers on that early, we really wanted to win that race,’’ he said.
“It was such a slowly run race and he pulled hard. Everything he doesn’t normally do he did in that race and (blinkers) will be off him on Saturday.”