Neutrality makes his comeback in the Silver Slipper Stakes at Rosehill with an eye on a more significant prize.
The colt has been in the frame for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper since opening his career in winning style in November, but he must produce another impressive performance to justify a start in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds.
“He’s got to run well to justify punching on towards the Slipper. He prepped up well so it’ll be good to see how he measures up,” co-trainer Paul Snowden said.
He is among the $26 chances in the TAB’s Golden Slipper market alongside Gimcrack Stakes-winning stablemate Satin Slipper.
Snowden, who trains with his father Peter, acknowledged Neutrality faced a difficult assignment in a field featuring Golden Slipper favourite Sunlight plus the highly rated Estijaab and Gongs.
“It’s quite a tidy race. The Hawkes’ horse (Estijaab) is very impressive. It’s drawn an inside gate and looks to get a lot of favours,” he said.
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“Sunlight and the Godolphin horse (Gongs) are two of the main hopes going forward with scores on the board.”
Magic Millions Classic winner Sunlight and Gongs illustrate the long-held belief the winner of the Slipper in March needs to be seen before Christmas.
“Horses that have been exposed to racing pre-Christmas or had a prep and are back in again, they’re the horses that are really training on and going quite well,” he said.
“Before, if you had a handy horse and you brought them to the races now hoping you’re a Slipper chance, that sort of potential would always perform but the newbies are struggling a tad this year.”
The Snowdens won the 2016 Magic Millions/Slipper double with Capitalist who made a winning debut in the Breeders Plate in October 2015.
Sunlight had her first start in October and Godolphin filly Gongs got underway in November, 18 days after Neutrality. Satin Slipper won the Gimcrack in September.
Estijaab, the $2.70 favourite on Thursday for the Silver Slipper and third-ranked in the Golden Slipper market, is an exception to the rule after she won her debut on January 20.