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The Golden Slipper and Australia's Leading Sires

May 30, 2011

Federico Tesio proposed a concept that the English Derby was the race that influenced the breeding of the thoroughbred.  In Australia, we need little speculation as just what race it could be that dominates our breeding industry.  With the remarkable current success of Redoute’s Choice, the Golden Slipper would seem to be our ideal starting point as he has sired two winners in Miss Finlandand Stratum.

The Slipper originated in 1957 and made an immediate impact on Australian racing with the win of Todman who went on to become one of our best known horses.  The honour role of the Golden Slipper includes a list of many of the greats including Sky High, Vain, Baguette, Luskin Star, Marscay, Manikato, Bounding Away and Burst.  But just because the Golden Slipper is relatively new in the overall scheme of Australian racing, 2yo racing has always had a major impact.  Races like the AJC Sires’ Produce date back to 1867 so we cannot blame the Golden Slipper for any possible impact of 2yo racing on the Australian breed.  A number of Golden Slipper winners have also won the AJC Sires’ Produce, as have horses like Tulloch which would indicate that champion horses can certainly be forward as 2yo’s.

Perhaps the best of the winners of the Slipper, at least in terms of subsequent Stakes wins, are Sky High and Manikato with 26 and 25 stakes wins respectively.  Baguette (14), Luskin Star (13), Vain (12), Sir Dapper (10) and Storm Queen (10) lead the rest of the winners in terms of total stakes races.  

In terms of modern Australian racing though, there is no doubt that the Golden Slipper is an important race.  Going back to the first years, the Golden Slipper gained its first boost by such an exceptional winner in Todman who went on to win seven stakes races.  He was also by an emerging sire inStarKingdom.  In fact, the first five Slippers were all won by sons and daughters of this great stallion.  The wins of Fine and Dandy, Sky High and Magic Night lifted StarKingdomto three of his five Champion Sire titles.  The way we view the Golden Slipper today, and the prizemoney on offer, makes many assume that siring the winner of the Slipper is a stepping stone to Champion Sire honours but history shows us differently.

The next stallion to sire the winner of the Golden Slipper in the same year as they won the Sires title was Wilkes through the performance of his great son in Vain in winning the 1969 running.  It was then another ten years until Champion Sire, Century, sired the winner in Century Miss.  Inspired in 1984 won the Slipper in the same year as his sire, Vain won the title, and we had to then wait until 1983 to see Bint Marscay help Marscay to the leading Sire title.  Sir Tristram, in spite of winning six leading Sires titles, sired only one Golden Slipper winner in Marauding in 1987. Danehill, possibly our modern day equivalent of Star Kingdom, dominated the leading Sires title for many years, but only Flying Spur and Merlene won the Golden Slipper in the same year as he claimed his Sires titles.  We now see two of his sons, Redoute’s Choice and Flying Spur win this title strengthened by the wins of Miss Finland and Forensics in the Golden Slipper. 

It would seem that the importance of winning the Slipper is not quite the same in reality as it is in perception.  We have also seen a number of winners of the Slipper go on to be successful stallions.  Interestingly though, only Vain, Marscay and now Flyin gSpur have gone on to sire winners of the Golden Slipper.  These are incredible performances without doubt, especially given the relatively short history of the race.  Nevertheless, they fall well short of being a dominant performance.  In the cold light of day, they even are slightly surprising in that so few sires have sired the Golden Slipper winner in the year that they have won the Leading Sire’s title.  While we can certainly say that the Golden Slipper plays an important role in the current direction of Australian breeding, it might be difficult to say that it has dominated racing in the way that Tesio suggested that the English Derby has the European breed.

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