Image: Steve Hart
Top jockey Brenton Avdulla has won the Golden Slipper twice and the two experiences have been chalk and cheese.
But they did have one thing in common – both victories came aboard fillies and he is hoping for another case of girl power aboard the James Cummings-trained Exploring in Saturday’s $5 million feature.
Avdulla tasted his first Golden Slipper win on Estijaab in 2016, a horse he had been with from the start of her career, while his 2022 triumph on the Gary Portelli-trained Fireburn was a pick-up ride when her regular jockey Jason Collett chose stablemate Sejardan.
“I’ve won two Slippers and they’ve (the rides) come at two different times,” Avdulla said.
“I was stable rider for Team Hawkes and I had Estijaab in October. I knew she was pretty good and I stuck with her all the way through.
“Last year I fluked the ride on Gary’s filly Fireburn because Jason decided to go the other way.
“You need a bit of luck to find them.”
As was the case with Fireburn, Avdulla will ride Exploring for the first time in the Slipper.
The filly has done all her racing in Victoria under Craig Williams, who is currently sidelined by injury, and her two victories include the fillies’ division of the Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) at Sandown last month before a sound seventh to Slipper rival Little Brose in the Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m).
She is one of three runners for Cummings, who will also start favourite Cylinder (James Mcdonald) and smart colt Barber (Nash Rawiller).
Avdulla partnered Cylinder to his Silver Slipper victory two starts ago and believes markets have got it right, rating the colt as the horse to beat.
“I’ve had a bit of luck in the Godolphin blue and he was probably the one that stood out to me the most out of the horses I’ve ridden,” he said.
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