Friday, March 1, 2024

Ryan Moore v James McDonald will be a highlight of Golden Slipper day

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Ryan Moore, the English superstar rated by his peers as the world’s best jockey, and his clash with local hero James McDonald is shaping as a sporting showdown for the ages in the $5m Longines Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Moore has answered an SOS from Coolmore Australia supremo Tom Magnier to ride boom colt Shinzo against Godolphin’s race favourite, Cylinder, McDonald’s mount in the world’s richest juvenile race.

Magnier compared the clash of the two champion jockeys to a Grand Slam tennis final between greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“On racing’s world stage last year, it was James McDonald and Ryan Moore,” Magnier said.

“So, I think we have a Federer and Nadal-like day on Saturday at Rosehill. Wouldn’t it be great to see the two of them going at it down the straight.”


Moore only arrived in Sydney on Wednesday night but he was out at Rosehill early on Thursday morning to put Shinzo through his paces on the course proper.

“I think Shinzo has a super attitude, he’s a big, strong colt, a delight to ride,” Moore said.

“I’m sure the horse will come out and perform well so we just need a bit of luck.”

Moore has ridden nearly 3000 winners worldwide including 168 at Group 1 level, and he is no stranger to big-race success in Australia having won the 2014 Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup double on Adelaide and Protectionist respectively, and the 2019 Mackinnon Stakes on Magic Wand.

The Englishman has also ridden in two Golden Slippers, finishing eighth on Odyssey Moon behind Vancouver in 2015 then well back on Formality in She Will Reign’s 2017 Slipper.

“I’ve been lucky enough to ride in this race a couple of times, I haven’t had any luck so far, but I’m very much looking forward to it,” Moore said.

“I’ve seen plenty of racing at Rosehill and plenty of Slippers so I think I have a good handle on what we need to do.

“This is one of the big four races in Australia and it is great to be going into the Slipper with a good chance. The horse has the talent, he looks very well and we have a chance.”

Shinzo’s trainer Chris Waller said it was important for Moore to “get familiar” with the colt ahead of the Golden Slipper.

“It is important for Ryan to have confidence in the horse so we were just ticking all the boxes,” Waller said after the track gallop.

“Ryan is one of the leading riders in the world, if not the leading rider in the world, so it is a privilege to have him here.”

Moore is certainly more comfortable on horseback than he is being interviewed and was genuinely taken aback by the huge press contingent at Rosehill.

“Ryan has ridden all over the world and he can’t believe the coverage racing gets in Sydney,” Magnier said.

“The build-up and the buzz for the Golden Slipper this week has been second-to-none. It’s all you think about when you go to sleep at night and the first thing you think about in the morning.”

Coolmore is a global racing powerhouse but it has never won a Golden Slipper. Magnier believes this is their best chance to win the race with Shinzo and unbeaten filly Learning To Fly.

“I’ve always said the Golden Slipper is up there as the race we want to win in 2023,” Magnier sad.

“We are in the game of making stallions and if the colt manages to win on Saturday we have a very, very well-bred stallion on our hands.

“But if the filly, Learning To Fly, won, then it would be great for her sire, Justify.

“We have so much belief in Justify since we retired him to stud and if she can win the Golden Slipper it would be up with the greatest moments in Dad’s (John Magnier) life.”

The Annabel Neasham-trained Learning To Fly is second favourite at $7 and Shinzo is rated a $14 chance behind $3.50 favourite Cylinder for Saturday’s Golden Slipper.

“We’re very fortunate, we have the best trainers, best jockeys, best horses, plus good draws so all the boxes are ticked so far but it is very hard to win a Golden Slipper,” Magnier said.

“There are not many trophies in the world that you can close your eyes and picture that trophy but the Golden Slipper is one of those.

“We’ve won a lot of races around the world but the Golden Slipper has got away from us although I’m delighted with the hand we are playing this year.”

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