Slipper favourites to eyeball each other

Sunlight has drawn barrier four for the Golden Slipper.

The two leading contenders in the Golden Slipper have drawn alongside each other and are edging even closer in betting markets on the $3.5 million race.

Written By firmed from $5 to $4.60 after coming up with gate four at Tuesday’s barrier draw while Sunlight eased slightly to $4.20.

Unusually both two-year-olds raced on Saturday, a week out from the Slipper and both won their respective races with Written By successful in the Pago Pago Stakes and Sunlight taking out the Magic Night.

Trainer Grahame Begg changed tack with Blue Diamond Stakes winner Written By when a scheduled barrier trial on the Kensington track was washed out last Tuesday.

Sunlight’s trainer Tony McEvoy always intended to run the filly the week before the Slipper because it was a plan that worked ahead of the $2 million Magic Millions Classic.

Both led in their respective lead-up races but their trainers said that did not have to be the case on Saturday.

“There is speed inside with Sizzling Belle and Ef Troop and from the outside with Estijaab,” Begg said.

“Written By doesn’t have to lead to win. It will be a high pressure race.”

McEvoy, who also has Oohood in the race, believes Sunlight’s record says she deserves to be favourite and he is delighted with her barrier.

“She is a genuine favourite,” he said.

“Barrier five with Written By and Sizzling Belle drawn in there…they’ll have speed, we’ll have speed.

“Luke’s job has been made a little bit easier by the draw.”

Luke Currie has been the regular rider of both the McEvoy fillies with Hong Kong-based Australian Zac Purton recruited to ride Oohood.

Tommy Berry, who has won the Slipper twice on Overreach in 2013 and Vancouver in 2015, will also fly in from Hong Kong to ride Aylmerton.

Trained by Jean Dubois, Aylmerton earned his place in the Slipper with his win in the Todman Stakes which also also brought interest from global racing and breeding powerhouse Coolmore which bought a half share.

Conceived in France, Aylmerton is by emerging sire Siyouni and the only progeny of the stallion to race in the southern hemisphere.

Siyouni stands at the Aga Khan Studs and has already sired 17 stakes winners.

“Alymerton caught our eye when he won at Canterbury and the Todman has always been a good guide to Golden Slipper,” Coolmore’s Michael Kirwan said.

With rain predicted in the lead-up to Saturday, Sandbar was popular with punters, firming from $17 to $11 while Seabrook came into $9.