GLOBAL sire More Than Ready will be front and centre at Rosehill with Golden Slipper contender Romantic Moon joining 8-times Group 1 winner More Joyous in action.
More Than Ready filly Romantic Moon is finally set to break Gooree’s Golden Slipper hoodoo and deliver her sire a third winner of the world’s richest juvenile race in the process.
Gooree’s famous red and black stripes have featured in three Golden Slipper placings starting with Just Blooming who was a neck second to Tommy Smith’s immortal Bounding Away in 1986.
Then in 2000, Danehill miss Crowned Glory was being hailed the winner before Belle Du Jour miraculously stole the race in the final stride.
The following year, Red Hannigan was the third pillar of Gai Waterhouse’s Slipper clean sweep.
Then came the heartbreak of 2011 when favourite Smart Missile was sensationally scratched minutes before the field jumped away.
There is a different feeling in the Gooree camp this year, the hope remains, but the weight of expectation is not.
“There’s not a lot of pressure this year,” says Gooree racing manager Monica Barrera.
“When you have the favourite obviously you feel it a bit more but we’re hoping that maybe we can pull out a sneaky little one with Romantic Moon.”
An outward replica of her sire More Than Ready, the John O’Shea-trained Romantic Moon trounced her rivals on debut in a Gosford maiden before a credible effort in the Silver Slipper.
She earned her spot in the Golden Slipper with what amounted to a soft win in the Group 3 Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on March 16.
“John is just taking her along nice and easy and, in his opinion, has got her spot-on. He actually said to me that this is the best he has prepared a horse for the Slipper.
“Her gallop on Tuesday was very sharp and he couldn’t be happier with her,” Barrera reported.
O’Shea is knocking on the door to win a Golden Slipper having gone within a whisker of landing the prize when Charge Forward crossed the line in unison with Dance Hero in 2004.
His next best result was in 2011 when Elite Falls – who is bred on the identical More Than Ready/Danehill mare as Romantic Moon – finished third to Sepoy.
Romantic Moon will jump from gate 6, a barrier which Barrera described as `perfect’ and will be partnered by James McDonald who is riding in his first Golden Slipper tomorrow.
“We are very happy to happy to have James McDonald on,” says Barrera. “He knows the filly, he’s ridden her at all of her starts and rides her trackwork. We were hoping that he would accept the ride on her in the Slipper and he didn’t have any hesitation.”
At the same time at the opposite end of the continent, More Than Ready is aiming for back-to-back WATC Oaks when crack local Moreish lines-up in the Perth classic.
The Sharon Miller-trained filly has already emulated some of what last year’s all out heroine Dreamaway did by taking out the WATC 1000 Guineas and Natasha Stakes in the lead-up to her Oaks quest.
And while More Than Ready remains the world’s best source of champion 2YO’s, fillies like Dreamaway and Moriesh not to mention ruling Kentucky Derby favourite Verrazano illustrate what a versatile stallion the Halo-grandson is.