Golden Slipper barrier draw: Storm Boy draws gate two for $5million Rosehill feature

The Sydney Morning Herald
Golden Slipper barrier draw: Storm Boy draws gate two for $5million Rosehill feature

Golden Slipper favourite drew the perfect gate ... so why weren’t owners happy?

Golden Slipper favourite Storm Boy drew seemingly the perfect barrier when part-owner Julia Ritchie picked out gate two for Saturday’s $5 million feature, but her response wasn’t what was expected.

Connections had been hoping for a middle barrier for the unbeaten son of Justify, which can be slow out of the gates. That’s why Ritchie groaned after drawing too well for the colt trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

“I was watching as all the wide barriers were going and thinking, ‘I don’t want to get an inside draw’, and then I picked two,” Ritchie said. “We had talked about it and we wanted a middle gate, so everyone else must have thought I was mad when they read out the barrier.”

Remarkably, all the double-figure draws came out early, leaving the favourites to secure the inside barriers for the world’s richest two-year-old race.

Coolmore’s two unbeaten colts dominate the top of betting, with Chris Waller-trained Switzerland, the Todman Stakes winner, staying the second pick after he drew barrier seven.

“We wanted to be in the middle of the field with Storm Boy because he can be slightly slowly away, so Ryan [Moore] could make his own luck,” Coolmore boss Tom Magnier said.

“You can’t be unhappy with the two barriers we got and the other colt [Switzerland] has drawn really well in gate seven. In a perfect world, I would probably like to swap the draws.

“But I have spoken to Gai Waterhouse and Chris Waller about the barriers, and they are both delighted, so we’ll see who is the best horse on Saturday.”

Bookmakers shortened Storm Boy from $2.30 to $2.10 after the barrier draw, contrary to the thinking of Magnier. The draw should see Storm Boy, which was valued at $30 million when sold to Coolmore following his Magic Millions win in January, find the rail in running, where 18 of the past 20 Golden Slipper winners have settled.

Despite his good draw, Switzerland was pushed out from $4 to $4.20 by Sportsbet, but jockey James McDonald couldn’t think of a better barrier to jump from.

“It’s a brilliant draw for my horse,” McDonald said. “I have won two Hong Kong Cups and a Cox Plate from that draw in the past couple of years, so it has been kind of lucky for me too.

“It will allow him to get the right position in the running, and he will get his chance to come home over the top of them.

“I’m very happy with the draw for my horse and he worked really well again [on Tuesday] morning.”

Waterhouse and Bott will have at least six runners in the Slipper. Breeders’ Plate winner Espionage is the only emergency for the race.

Bott was delighted to see five of his team draw single-figured gates. Fully Lit got the coveted rails alley, Shangri La Express three, and Lady Of Camelot, a $12 chance, looks the likely leader from barrier five.

“To get six in the race and have four draw in the five inside gates, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Bott said. “Even Straight Charge in barrier nine isn’t that bad because he will go forward.

“They went out and did the right things on the track [on Tuesday] morning, so it has been a good day for us and hopefully that continues to Saturday.”