Gr1 Golden Slipper – Eclipse Of The Victory Moon

Princess Victoria - an impressive winner in the Allan Robertson

The official handicapper still hasn’t published any 2yo ratings (what a disgrace!), which means that punters are on their own when trying to figure who the best of the bunch is in the two 2yo Gr1 races on July day.

It is difficult to fathom just why the handicapper cannot make up his mind earlier – or is this another one of the silly restricting handicapping Rules made by the NHA to avoid controversy, at the expense of real transparency?

In the UK the official handicappers have a blog on the Jockey Club website, giving their views freely and without fear of retribution. Maybe one day South Africa will be able to join the first world handicappers and do the job properly. Meanwhile, readers are stuck with the Sporting Post ratings to get an idea of relative excellence, writes Karel Miedema.

If Andrew Fortune would be the guide, then Princess Victoria will surely be in the red for the Gr1 Golden Slipper fillies 1400m. Fortune, in the euphoria of his Allan Robertson win,  proclaimed the 2yo daughter of Victory Moon to be ‘the best 2yo I have ridden’. Given that the filly is Andrew’s only 2yo Gr1 (or Gr2) winner he’s had in the last two decades (at least), the champion jockey’s observation may lose some of its weight. Admittedly, Princess Victoria skated home, hands-and-heels, in the Gr1 Allan Robertson Fillies Championship at her last start. Her time measured up pretty well against the three other Gr1 1200m races on that day, as third best, and marginally faster than the colt’s Gold Medallion winner Delago deLuxe who won equally impressively. Princess Victoria completed the hattrick, but not as race favourite, starting at 75/20 (from 33/10). In terms of ratings, her Allan Robertson win stands out, being some twenty pounds above anything she’d shown with her wins prior to that. Of course, a filly can do no more than win, but some additional evidence might have been helpful. For now, we only have Andrew’s word for it.

Runner-up in the Allan Robertson was Gauteng filly Up Front, backed from 25/1 to 13/1 at the off. She was beaten by 3 lengths, but running on well at the finish. By Count du Bois out of  a Royal Academy mare who is dam of three foals who won from 1400 to 1600m, the extra distance of the Golden Slipper should be to her advantage. At her previous start, in the 1200m Fillies Nursery at Turffontein, Up Front had finished second to Hidden Beauty. Up Front was 66/1 that day, and beaten by the same 3 lengths in the Allan Robertson. Hidden Beauty was third in the Allan Robertson, where she’d shortened from 9/2 to 3/1. The question then becomes, was Hidden Beauty’s Nursery win flattered, or was her Allan Robertson run below best? The answer is veiled in confusion, but could well be answered at Greyville, where Hidden Beauty has a better draw (at 4) than Princess Victoria (wide at 12).

Hidden Beauty

There’s every indication that the Golden Slipper will be a two-filly affair at best: Princess Victoria should beat Up Front, which leaves Hidden Beauty as the only one likely to challenge. Interestingly, the Princess and the Beauty both are daughters of the deceased stallion Victory Moon. One will be eclipsed.

Let’s look at the rest of the field of sixteen.
Solarium made a big impression with a seven length win at her debut. She didn’t quite fulfil that promise at her next starts, all in feature company. She showed pace in the Fillies Nursery before dropping out, beaten 12 lengths – clearly not her form. She had one more run after that, over 1450m at Turffontein, shortening from 33/10 to 18/10 in a 9-horse field. She showed good pace before fading into third. It wasn’t quite the prep run you’d like to see before travelling to Greyville on July-day. We have little idea as to what to expect.
Toreador filly She’s A Stunner  was a fluent winner of the Strelitzia Stakes, setting the pace. She did that again next time out in the Allan Robertson, when fourth, a length behind Up Front and half behind Hidden Beauty. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things.


The problem is that She’s A Stunner was used as the line-horse to determine the ratings in the Allan Robertson, just as she’d been the time before – and the time after. She’s A Stunner, on ratings, is highly consistent. But what if in reality she wasn’t and the ratings are wrong? How close can She’s A Stunner get from her middle draw at 8. She’s on her fifth jockey (from six starts), which complicates matters further.
Mike de Kock saddles Australian bred fillies Salsabeel and Amanee, both owned by Sheikh Mohammed. Salsabeel put up a career best rating last time out, when beating She’s A Stunner by half a length. The performance is put in perspective when the weights are considered: Stunner gave Salsabeel 4½ kg, of which 2½ kg was the latter’s apprentice allowance. Salsabeel is drawn 16 and should not turn the tables on She’s A Stunner. Stable companion Amanee, also drawn wide at 14, showed some pace before fading badly in the Allan Robertson, an effort too bad to be true. She made amends with a career best rating in a 1450m feature at Clairwood two weeks ago, and may well have more improvement to come.  At Clairwood she had six behind her who are also in the Golden Slipper. Closest of those challengers was runner-up Stern Line who with Marcus up attempted to make all the running, just as she’d done the previous two times with the same jockey. Stern Line is drawn at 13, again with Marcus, and will have to make an early effort to lead again.

There are possible improvers among the remainder, but none to suggest that could take a hand in the finish.

About the Pace

She's A Stunner

With such a large field jumping from the 1400m mark, the early pace is bound to be good, and a wide draw will be a disadvantage. Although it might not be wise to oppose Princess Victoria, she may not be the certainty the likely betting suggests. Hidden Beauty, with her better draw, could be a serious opponent and the value-horse in the race. Then there are Up Front (still a maiden!), She’s A Stunner and Amanee – none of whom should be far off at the finish. Whoever wins might well end up as the Champion 2yo filly for 2011.

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