James Cummings says the strength of Golden Slipper favourite Cylinder’s form can be seen in the fact he’s been able to bring down the might of Tulloch Lodge in his lead ups to Saturday’s two-year-old grand final.
The Godolphin trainer said over many years spent at Randwick, working for his grandfather Bart and father Anthony as well as in his own right, he’s paid plenty of attention to the youngsters seven-time Slipper winner Gai Waterhouse has produced.
So he knows when Waterhouse, and now with Adrian Bott, has depth in their two-year-old ranks and he says it’s there in 2023 and that gives him confidence that Cylinder is the horse to beat in the Group 1 $5 million Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill.
The colt ran down Platinum Jubilee to win the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) on February 18 then two weeks later he did the same to Red Resistance in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m).
“He goes into the Golden Slipper with the absolute A1 form line,’’ Cummings said on SEN.
“He’s beaten off two Tulloch Lodge runners, so you know how tough he is, and he’s galvanised by that pre-Christmas preparation he had last year.
“I’ve watched some of the good two-year-olds coming out of Tulloch Lodge.
“You develop a sense of when they are going strongly and Tulloch Lodge has been firing on all cylinders this season with their two-year-olds.
“We had to find a horse to take them on in the Silver Slipper, the good filly that came out of the Magic Millions, then they brought their good colt out in the Todman and we’ve beaten both those horses with this colt.”
Cylinder’s wins in the Silver Slipper and Todman make him the only horse eligible for a $1 million bonus on top of the $2.8 million first prizemoney for the Longines Golden Slipper.
Cummings said things appear to have fallen into place for the colt with barrier three and James McDonald to ride but adds he’s by no means taking the result for granted.
“I think he’s firing, I think he’s ready to go. He’s just done everything right, all in all how could he have had a better lead in to the Golden Slipper,’’ he said.
“The whole set up is exactly how we’d want for Cylinder to show his best but the Golden Slipper is such a high pressure event he’s going to need to be absolutely on his game if he’s going to be good enough to win.”
All eyes are on Cylinder as the favourite, $3.90 with TAB on Thursday, but Cummings says his other runners Barber and Exploring, drawn next to each other in eight and nine, have the ability to be competitive despite finishing unplaced in the Blue Diamond three weeks ago.
Exploring was only beaten 2-1/2 lengths in the Diamond as a $16 chance and Cummings said her $71 quote is a little offensive considering her strong win in the lead up race.
“They didn’t get to her in the Blue Diamond Prelude where she ran faster time that the colts,’’ he said.
“She’s capable of showing speed, taking up a prominent spot and she’s earned her way into the Golden Slipper field legitimately.
“She’s far closer to a 25/1 chance in our view. She’s got to reclaim the rating she showed in the Blue Diamond Prelude.
“I just hope her form is not on the downward spiral, I liked what I saw from her training and the way she came back from Melbourne suggests she’s well and truly capable of stepping up for another start.”
Barber went into the Blue Diamond unbeaten and started the $5 favourite but didn’t produce his best though was beaten under three lengths when finishing ninth.
He won the Kirkham Plate on debut and the $1 million Golden Gift and Cummings said he’s returned to Sydney in good order so is entitled to be given another chance.
“If you can forgive a promising horse one run then Barber has got to be the forgotten horse of our three,’’ he said.
“He got off the float after that Blue Diamond and looked amazing, he did not come back like a horse who had a hard campaign. He came off the float looking like a horse that is cherry ripe to run his best race this preparation.
“He’s drawn the barrier where a fast run race will suit a horse with a mid draw and he could be letting loose with a big finish.”
– Racing NSW