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A Mick Price-led Victorian stranglehold on the Golden Slipper has certainly muddied the two-year-old picture, but another wildcard from south of the border is already eyeing off bigger fish later in the carnival.
Dominant Bendigo maiden winner Meridian Star will provide Jackie Beriman with her first ride at Rosehill, hoping to throw another spanner in the works in the strangest of Golden Slipper build-ups.
Price’s stablemates Extreme Choice and Flying Artie won’t be bundled from the top of betting, but Meridian Star can provide trainer Richard Laming with some food for thought in the Bede Murray Magic Night Stakes, the Golden Slipper’s last-chance saloon.
“More than likely we won’t go to the Slipper and will probably wait for the Sires [Produce], but you never know,” Laming said. “Everything has got to go right obviously.
“I don’t really have a lot of two-year-olds as I don’t push them early. This is the first main prep she’s put her hand up and she’s such a good doing filly in that she’s never left an oat.
“She’s shown a lot of natural ability and the first time we let her head go was at Bendigo the other day. There’s still more improvement there.”
Gai Waterhouse is tipped to press her claims to be three-handed in the Golden Slipper with Prompt Response a $3 favourite with Ladbrokes for the Magic Night Stakes where Godolphin’s Reisling Stakes late scratching Calliope is a $3.60 second elect.
Meridian Star, owned by the emerging Group 1 Racing syndicator, is a $31 chance of causing a boilover in the fillies division.
But it hasn’t deterred the enthusiasm of those attached to the filly, which was passed in for $55,000 at last year’s Easter sale in Sydney and picked up by Group 1 Racing’s Shaun Wallis, who was introduced to Laming through top jockey Michael Rodd.
“We started with one horse and now we’ve got about 10 [together],” Laming said. “We have just taken our time and before [Meridian Star] won we went there pretty confident and she won well.”
Wales will wear the Group 1 red and black colours in Monday’s Adelaide Cup.
The colts will have their chance to stake an 11th-hour Golden Slipper bid in the Pago Pago Stakes with the luckless Mount Panorama a $3.50 favourite in an open betting market.
“He has had excuses in all three starts to date whether it be through missing the start or wet tracks and it looks a nice race for him,” co-trainer Michael Hawkes said. “If we were to consider going onto the Slipper he would have to win and win well though.”
Fellow Rosehill lodger Gerald Ryan has already ruled out a Golden Slipper start for Aviator, a $16 hope in the Pago Pago Stakes, should he earn exemption for the $3.5 million scamper on Saturday week.
“I said to [Vinery Stud’s] Peter Orton, ‘I reckon this horse could measure up in the autumn’,” Ryan said. “Instead of overtaxing him in the spring we gave him five weeks off and started again.
“He worked very well [on Tuesday] morning with an older horse and I love when two-year-olds can do that. He’s going terrific, but he’s another where the Slipper was never on his agenda.”
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