Slipper Champions well ahead of Current Crop
Verry Elleegant-Addeybb clash appeals but Slipper champions well ahead of current crop
By Max Presnell
March 19, 2021 — 1.32pm
Featured Image: The last champion? 1978 Golden Slipper winner ‘Manikato’
Authors Note: I agree wholeheartedly with Max! In the helter skelter cavalry charge for speedy quantity have we not forfeited quality? At the time of posting this the Golden Slipper Race Day has been postponed one week due to heavy recent rain and the state of the track at Rosehill.
Profiteer, the Melbourne speedster and lukewarm favourite for Saturday’s $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens, is nowhere near the mighty Vain confirming modern two-year-olds are inferior to those in the past with the last champion to come out of the world’s richest race for youngsters being Manikato in 1978.
However the Rosehill program, despite the saturated conditions, maintains high quality particularly with the clash of Her Highness, Verry Elleegant, and the Pom, Addeybb, in the Ranvet Stakes worth crawling across broken glass to watch.
Even depleted by the wet the other group 1s – the Rosehill Guineas, The Galaxy and George Ryder – add to what promises to be an intriguing experience.
“Champion” is a personal assessment, placed above “great”, followed by “outstanding”. Assessing the Golden Slipper winners is based not only what they did in the rich Rosehill scramble but also their achievements later.
Somewhere between hundreds of millions and billions has been spent to find stallions to mine the rich vein for which the event is the mother lode.
Prior to the first chapter in 1957, taken by Todman, breeders sought to produce top horses with a Classics, Derby and Oaks intention. Now the target is precocious youngsters.
Alas the only recent winner to verge on “great” but still “outstanding” is Pierro (2012), no mean feat because it puts him in with Tierce (1991), Bounding Away (1986) and Tontonan (1973).
With Vain and Manikato, the subject of a current Graham McNeice documentary, Vain, on Sky Channel, Todman (1957), and Luskin Star (1977) were the best.
Consider, too, the early Golden Slipper winners: Todman, Skyline (1958), Fine And Dandy (1959) and Sky High (1960). Sky High and Skyline won Derbies and Fine And Dandy was an exceptional sprinter. These days breeders like to get any speed-producing potential away to the stud quick whereas they were once given time to extend their racing.
Perhaps champions like Todman and Vain didn’t have long careers like Manikato but they left endearing memories. Vain makes modern day youngsters look fragile. Yes, the colt was beaten twice in 14 attempts but note his 1969 Melbourne Cup week when he won what is now the VRC Sprint Classic, the Linlithgow, and George Adams Handicap at Flemington, captured in black and white by McNeice who also had colour tape of him later as a stallion, a magnificent individual, in a John Tapp video.
Like Vain, Profiteer hails from Melbourne. He’s fast and should lead, out of trouble, a major plus in the mad charge of the young brigade which could get eventuate in the two-year-old handling wet ground being best. But the winner won’t compare with Pago Pago who notched the 1963 Golden Slipper in a Rosehill bog.
My gamble is with the filly Four Moves Ahead, already a winner on the Kensington heavy which doesn’t necessarily give her a tick for Rosehill. Under Nash Rawiller she launches from 10, hardly a drawback. The last five winners in the wet have come from 11 or wider. Hopefully Rawiller will get a smoother passage on her than he did on Forbidden Love in the Coolmore at Rosehill last Saturday.
Perhaps only five acceptors make the Ranvet, dating back to 1902, unappealing but not with Verry Elleegant, Australia’s best over 2000 metres, taking on Addeybb, who beat her in a great struggle last year. Tactics employed by James McDonald on the mare against the Young Lester (Piggott), Tom Marquand, navigating the invader, will be a highlight.
When the pressure is on and her head goes up Verry Elleegant comes into the Banjo Paterson mindset – “the stock horse snuffs the battle with delight” – but Abbeybb relishes the challenge and subsequently confirmed the form last year with two group 1 triumphs in the UK.
Certainly Verry Elleegant would not be out of place with the Ranvet greats of the 1950s and 1960s which produced Tulloch, Redcraze, Sky High and Wenona Girl, a poster girl before Winx, the latter of whom left her mark on the day with four George Ryders.
Is it statistically significant that the only two Australian-bred acceptors in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) are rank outsiders?