Not daring to look, star jockey Brenton Avdulla waited in hope his Golden Slipper barrier draw fears would not be realised.
Estijaab, the filly Avdulla will partner in Saturday’s $3.5 million race at Rosehill, came up with barrier 17 in the capacity field of 16 plus four emergencies.
It drew a wry smile from Avdulla as he lifted his head at Tuesday’s draw at Rosehill racecourse.
“When I saw all the good barriers go, I actually said to (fellow jockey) Timmy Clark ‘I reckon she’ll get 16’,” Avdulla said.
“She got 17, so it was not far off. We come into 14, but there’s a lot of unknowns.
“I suppose on a normal good surface, it’s a bit tricky.
“She’s obviously got good gate speed but you just don’t know what the weather is going to do.
“You can’t worry about it too much. It could be an advantage to be out past five or six.”
With rain predicted in Sydney during the week, Avdulla said it might not be a bad thing to be out wide.
Regardless, Avdulla retains confidence in the ability of Estijaab to make her mark in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds and says he would not want to be on any other horse in the race.
The Hawkes Racing-trained Estijaab, who has drifted from $9 to $13 since the draw, has won two of her three starts.
Her only defeat has been a second to Sunlight in the Silver Slipper two starts ago when that pair gapped the rest of the field.
“She’s a really good filly. She’s top-class,” Avdulla said.
“It’s taken the Slipper favourite to beat her and that’s the only blemish in her form. She was probably stiff not to beat Sunlight if she had things go her way.
“She has won at the 1200-metres now. She’s by Snitzel so she should handle cut out of the ground and her mum (Response) seemed to race well on wet ground without winning.
“She’s been set for the race. I wouldn’t swap her for anything.”