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HISTORY OF THE GOLDEN SLIPPER

The Golden Slipper could not have had a better introduction than with Todman as its first winner in 1957 and has since gone from strength to strength to be the world's richest race for two-year olds.

Vain with Pat Hyland aboard, Michael Jeffery

Today its the flagship race in Sydney’s West. The Golden Slipper was created in 1957 by the 1950’s the Sydney Turf Club (STC) – themselves only a decade old and eaher to add a new and prestigious race to their autumn carnival. One of the foundation directors, George Ryder, proposed that the Club hold a race restricted to two-year-olds with set weights. The idea took root and the Golden Slipper Stakes was born.

The name came when Ryder’s wife was asked what she thought the perfect present for a two-year-old was. The answer “A Golden Slipper” captured public imagination. The Golden Slipper could not have had a better introduction than with Todman as its first winner in 1957. He lent the race credibility and his eight length win put the race on the front page the next day.

By the end of the 1960’s, the Slipper was well confirmed in popularity. In 1969, a record crowd was treated to a spectacle with the interstate rivalry between Victoria’s remarkable sprinter Vain and impeccably bred Special Girl from NSW bringing racing patrons out in droves. However, from the turn it was all Vain. Winning with a four length margin, Vain was the first Victorian horse to win the Golden Slipper. Though his racing career was shortened by injury, he was very successful at stud and his son Sir Dapper would win the Slipper in 1983.

Luskin Star racing at Rosehill, 1977, unknown photographer

The 1977 winner was Luskin Star, a ‘splayed foot’ colt who had been ignored by most. However, the Newcastle trainer, Max Lees liked the look of him and put together a syndicate to purchase him. Luskin Star was quick to show his potential with a win in the Silver Slipper and Todman Slipper Trial. For the Golden Slipper he was part of a high quality field. Luskin Star shared favourite with Blazing Saddles at 11-4 but Luskin Star outclassed his rivals with a seventh length win breaking the race record by 1.1 seconds. His superior racing continued when he won the AJC Sires Produce Stakes and the Champagne Stakes which with the Golden Slipper completed the two-year-old Triple Crown.

Prizemoney for the Golden Slipper in 1986 reached $1 million, making it the first race in NSW to reach such heights. The grey Biscay filly Bounding Away took the honours. While it was T. J. Smith’s fifth Golden Slipper, it was the first time that the breeder, owner and trainer were all the same person. Bounding Away was named Australasian horse of the year after winning further Group One races the Champagne Stakes, the Flight Stakes and the Blue Diamond. Her versatility was proved with a win in the 2400 metre AJC Oaks.

Flying Spur in the Golden Slipper, 1995, Bradley Photographers

Though the 1990s were considered some of the roughest years of the Golden Slipper, Flying Spur gave a brilliant performance in 1995. Ridden by Glen Boss, who was making the most of a late riding engagement and the rails barrier, Flying Spur started at 25/1. He beat the future champion Octagonal by half a neck. For trainer Lee Freedman, Flying Spur made it three Golden Slipper’s in a row. Flying Spur was a son of the champion sire Danehill and would go on to have wins in the Australian Guineas, All Aged Stakes and Peter Pan Stakes (now the Golden Rose).

The year 2000 saw a remarkable win for Belle Du Jour. While Belle Du Jour may be remembered because of her part-owner John Singleton, her achievement in the race itself cannot be understated. Appearing to ‘buckjump’ at the start, jockey Lenny Beasley struggled to stay in the saddle. With only 1200 metres to play with this disaster had the connections mourning for their loss. However, in the last 100 metres the impossible happened. Belle Du Jour got on the inside of Crowned Glory, slipped through the middle of the pack and motored home by half a head. It was trainer Clarry Connors’ fourth win. John Singleton famously shouted free drinks for all in the Public Bar.

Ha Ha, 2001, Alister Simpson

The next year, 2001, was equally remarkable. Ha Ha stormed through the field to win, giving jockey Jim Cassidy his first Golden Slipper. In another history making moment, all three placegetters were trained by Gai Waterhouse – Ha Ha 1st, Excellerator 2nd and Red Hannigan 3rd. For owner John Singleton it was an emotion filled day as he gained a second Slipper winner, a remarkable feat for an owner. Waterhouse went on to win further Slipper’s in 2004 (Dance Hero), 2008 (Sebring), 2012 (Pierro), 2013 (Overreach) and 2015 (Vancouver) equalling her father, T. J. Smith’s record of six wins.

In the last few years, fillies have dominated the Slipper. Wins by She Will Reign (2017), Estijaab (2018) and Kiamichi (2019) have taken the tally to 28. Kiamichi’s win saw Golden Slipper winner breeding return as her dam Ouachita’s sire was Canny Lad, winner of the Slipper in 1990. Kiamichi also gave James Cummings his first Slipper win, carrying on from his grandfather, Bart Cummings who had four wins in the race.