Jockey Brenton Avdulla remains confident his mount in Saturday’s Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill Estijaab has the gate speed to overcome her wide alley in the $3.5 million classic.


Reisling Stakes winner Estijaab has work to do from a wide 2018 Golden Slipper barrier draw this weekend in Sydney. Photo: Steve Hart.

Racing NSW took 20 final acceptances for this season’s Group 1 2018 Longines Golden Slipper (1200m), 16 of which are guaranteed a shot in the two-years-old feature.

Tuesday morning saw the official Golden Slipper barrier draw take place and one of the widest alleys went out to the Hawkes Racing-trained filly Estijaab with 17.

She could come into barrier 14 with the four emergencies out, a gate that has produced just two Golden Slipper winners in the past 30 years with Bint Marscay (1993) and Polar Success (2003).

Both of those were fillies and this weekend Estijaab is rated a $13 chance in Golden Slipper betting at to beat home the boys.

“When I first seen 17 I wasn’t too happy,” Avdulla said post-barrier draw on Tuesday.

“But it’s one of those races where sometimes when you draw well, it doesn’t pan out.

“She’s got good gate speed and will be one of the quickest out.”

Three fillies have been successful in the last five years including She Will Reign (2017) and last Saturday’s all-the-way Magic Night Stakes winner Sunlight at Golden Slipper odds of $4.20 is the best of the girls in 2018.

A two-time winner from three career runs, Snitzel filly Estijaab also comes off a lead-up Sydney success from back on March 10.

At Royal Randwick she saluted in the Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) as the odds-on favourite with Avdulla aboard.

He has partnered her for all three of her starts, including also the first-up second to Sunlight in the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) from late February.

Proven over the Golden Slipper distance, reaching peak fitness and from one of the country’s best stables there is plenty to like about the value on offer for Estijaab on Saturday.

There is the gate, but with the possibility of a rain-affected Rosehill track and the rail coming out, Avdulla believes a double-digit draw could work in his favour on the day.

“The weather’s a big thing this week,” he said.

“It might not be a bad thing to be out in 14 after all.

“I’m confident Team Hawkes have her prepared and ready to go.

“She looked pretty good this morning.

“I wouldn’t trade her for anything else in the race.”

Avdulla is after his maiden Golden Slipper winning ride, while the Hawkes stable won four years ago with the filly Mossfun (2014) who improved on a Reisling Stakes second.

Co-trainer and Hall of Famer John Hawkes also prepared Forensics (2007) and Guineas (1997) for their respective Golden Slipper victories.

As for the Reisling Stakes – Golden Slipper double Estijaab is after this autumn, it was most recently completed by Overreach in 2013.

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