Vince Accardi: Golden Slipper 2018 contenders and pretenders

With less than two weeks until the $3.5 million Golden Slipper, Vince Accardi has delivered his assessment of which horses he believes are winning contenders and those just making up the numbers.

Accardi has analysed the juvenile races leading into the Golden Slipper 2018 and believes the horse to beat will be lining up this Saturday at Rosehill in the Group II Magic Night Stakes.

“Sunlight is the one they all have to beat – she has the score on the board,” Accardi said.

“She recorded  5.7 lengths above IVR benchmark last start in the Silver Slipper which is the best figure that a two-year-old has posted anywhere in Australia.

“To win a Golden Slipper you need to have the capacity to run anywhere between 4.5 lengths to 6 lengths above benchmark – that will generally have you on the podium.

“While she has had a lot of brilliant racing, if Sunlight can turn up on the day she is clearly the one they have to beat.”

The Hawkes’ Estijaab finished a narrow second to Sunlight before taking out the Group II Reisling Stakes at Randwick last Saturday at her next start.

The million dollar yearling purchase started $1.40 favourite on that occasion but made hard work of the win, with the question on the lips of most post-race – how impressive was she?

Bookmakers eased the filly’s quote for the Golden Slipper from $5 out to $7, however Accardi is still convinced the filly is a genuine contender.

“Estijaab went 2.9 lengths above benchmark, ranking 32nd best of the day,” Accardi said.

“Why the run looked a little on the plain side to the naked eye was the aggression through the first section – the horse was going two lengths faster than what she did at her previous start and having to sustain it over 400m compared to 300m.

“Furthermore, she actually reduced her speed mid-race by 3.3 lengths – that can make the run look a little plain as well because you hit that flat spot and have to reaccelerate, which is difficult to do.

“She actually out kicked her first 400m over the final 400m which is a massive positive.

“With this fast run race now under her belt, Estijaab should be absolutely ready to peak.

“I’m finding it really difficult to split Estijaab and Aylmerton and I expect them to finishing in the top three in the Slipper.”

Aylmerton scored a strong win over Ef Troop in a dramatic Todman Stakes on Saturday, with Hugh Bowmanfalling from early Golden Slipper favourite Performer in the straight.

“Aylmerton is a runner that I’m most interested in, he was impressive,”Accardi said.

“He has gone quick through the first section and then mid-race gone even faster!

“He’s gone 6.4 lengths above benchmark through the mid-section and still been able to maintain an above benchmark figure in the final section, which is simply outstanding and it bodes well for a high pressure race like the Golden Slipper.”

According to Accardi, Ef Troop is a horse that wouldn’t need to improve too much to find itself in the finish of the Slipper.

As for the fallen Performer, which will need to trial to the satisfaction of stewards early next week to take his place in the juvenile feature, Accardi’s data suggests he should have been fighting out the finish.

“Performer was really starting to power up between the 400m and the 200m, he was actually going better than Aylmerton at that stage and then the fall has happened,” Accardi said.

“I couldn’t say definitively he should have won but he should have been in the finish, probably finishing around third.

“He will need to improve a bit but he is still in my Slipper calculations.”

One horse that sits highly in the Golden Slipper markets is the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained Santos, currently quoted at $13 on the fifth line of betting.

While Accardi was very impressed with the colt’s figures first-up over 1100m, his dramatic slowdown at the end of 1200m last start has him concerned.

“Santos was dynamic first-up, recording great figures,” he said.

“Second-up he used a lot of fuel the first section but the overall last 400m was minus 8.1 lengths below benchmark with most of the deterioration coming in the last 200m –  I don’t like that sign.”

Recapping, at this early stage, Accardi has Sunlight ($4.50) as clearly the horse to beat in the Golden Slipper on March 24 with Estijaab ($7.50) and Aylmerton ($16) rated as the main dangers.

Narrowly behind those are Ef Troop ($15) and Perfomer ($10) while he will be betting around Santos ($13) which appears a risk in a high-pressure 1200m race.