Godolphin Slipper trifecta a major triumph for James Cummings and his team

If racegoers ever come to mistake the 2019 renewal of the $3,500,000, Group 1, Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) with the 2018 running of the very same celebrated juvenile in years to come, they could well be excused. Just as last year’s victory by Estijaab, this year’s winner Kiamichi (by Sidestep) jumped straight to the lead from an outside barrier and never appeared likely to be headed thereafter.

In what essentially turned out to be a replica of the previous running of the jewel in the Rosehill Gardens crown, this year’s rendition of the Golden Slipper witnessed a brilliant filly not only display abundant speed but also admirable resolve to keep on running away from her rivals and right through the line.

Chased home by stable companions Microphone (by Exceed And Excel) and Lyre (by Lonhro), Kiamichi gave the Godolphin team victory in a race on which they appeared to have a mortgage.

Kaimichi wins the Slipper from stable companion Microphone, photo

With seven runners in the world’s most valuable juvenile event, the chances that Godolphin was going to provide the first horse home had in fact been very likely for weeks. That the outfit provided the first three placegetters is not only testament to their 2-year-old program, but further evidence of the fact that in head trainer James Cummings they have a young man neither fearing the enormity of his job, nor the thankless task of living in his remarkable grandfather's shadow.

While the Golden Slipper is revered as the breed shaping event of the Australian thoroughbred industry, the fact that fillies are winning more often than colts has slightly dented a widely accepted reputation. However, what the victory of Kiamichi — not to mention the stable trifecta — signals once again is that in Cummings Jnr, the Goldophin team have a horseman very likely to write his own chapter in the annals of Australian thoroughbred racing just as his forebear’s forefather before him.

Interviewed immediately after his first Golden Slipper success, Cummings' performance was just as magnificent as that of his charge’s on the track. Indeed, it could well be recalled for its eloquence just as much as his grandfather’s were for his inimitable wit.

James Cumings celebrates Kaimichi's victory, photo

“That’s some sort of race,” declared the fourth generation trainer after his maiden Golden Slipper win. “Great credit to this horse. She’s just been able to come on the scene in such a way that suggested that she was just going too well to deny her a chance to be running in this race.

“She’s our first two-year-old winner. We trained her for strength. I wanted to toughen these horses up all season and she was tough this week. She had an absolute ripper of a week.

“She’s by a stallion [Sidestep] who was able to run three weeks in a row and still run second in this race — just like our colt Microphone just did, beaten less than a length.

“Microphone’s got a great future, but one thing I knew coming into this Golden Slipper this year, a little like two years ago, [is that] you can throw out the window what horse you think is the most brilliant. You can throw out the window the horse you think has had the picture perfect preparation. Because at the end of it, it’s going to come down to the horse that’s got the guts to handle the track on the occasion and the heart to get over the line first.

“One thing I’ll say… the guys have done an amazing job all season to be meticulous with these two-year-olds. I’m pretty proud to be associated with the blue jacket at the moment.”

Cummings added in direct relevance to Kiamichi: “Our first two-year-old winner of the season had the heart to get up and win on debut, and she’s just kept improving, trained for 1200m all the way through, and toughened up right until the grand final. It is very, very satisfying.”

Ridden to victory by Melbourne-based hope Damian Lane, the winning rider also seemed to be of the opinion that Cummings and his extensive team had done their job exceptionally well.

Damian Lane salutes on Kaimichi, photo

“I just sent her away,” claimed Lane. “What a tough filly. So well prepared by James Cummings and his team. I got on her last week, and sat and steered her around. And did the same thing last week. She’s just so honest and so tough. 

“We had to be positive. Had to use her [main] attributes, which is her speed and her toughness, and it paid off. 

“It’s a big thrill to ride such a big winner for Godolphin. I’m just a small part of the team there, but it’s a good team to be involved with.”

In terms of other main contenders in this year’s Golden Slipper, Loving Gaby was never on the track and did a mighty job to finish fourth. The fact that Lyre passed her in the straight was no disgrace after the extreme amount of extra ground she had to cover and the prominent positions they both filled very much franked this year's Blue Diamond form.

Yes Yes Yes also turned in a highly creditable effort to finish seventh after being a conspicuous last in the early stages.

In the end however, it was Kiamichi who led from start-to-finish, coming home a length to the good of Microphone, who in turn finished half-a-length in front of Lyre.

Starting prices of the first three home were $26.00 the winner, $8.00 the second, and $14.00 the third.

Winning time proved to be 1m12.82s, the final 600m being run in 36.92s.

The Golden Slipper, photo finish picture ATC

What the beaten jockeys said:

Blake Shinn (Yes Yes Yes): “I thought he ran a tremendous race, he just never handled the ground, he was off the bit and struggling the whole way, still did a good to finish off and finish as close as he did.

Hugh Bowman (Microphone): “Delighted with the colt, it was a great performance, very proud of him. Winner too good.”

Jason Collett (Time To Reign): “Good run, would have liked to have been handier but just didn’t leave the gates quick enough. Very good though.”

Dwayne Dunn (Free Of Debt): “He’s been injured quite badly, near-side fore and off-side fore, hopefully everything will be alright with him.”

Mark Zahra (Cosmic Force): “Raced probably a little bit flat, I just travelled where I was and didn’t pick up in the straight.”

Michael Walker (Dubious): “Probably better to go back to Melbourne and get a firm track.”

Luke Currie (Lyre): “She ran really well, just had to wait a while to get a bit of room, she was very good late.”

Damien Oliver (Lankan Star): “I thought she ran really well, had a nice run, but she’s not really comfortable in those conditions, but she battled it out really well.”

James McDonald (Tenley): “That wasn’t her, have to put it down to the ground, she’s was just gone the moment I left the stalls, her two worst furlongs was right in the middle of the race where it’s really chopped up, she’ll live to fight another day.”

Tommy Berry (Pin Sec): “She just struggled in the ground, at the 600m she hit quite a bad patch there and never gained her confidence after that. I was happy with the way she found the line late though.”

Tim Clark (Anaheed): “She ran really well, had a nice run, just the winner was too good.”

Corey Brown (Catch Me): “Ran nice, but didn’t really handle the track, it’s quite choppy.”

Sam Clipperton (Vincere Volare): “Courageous little filly, the ground found her out today.”

Kerrin McEvoy (Exhilarates): “We got back from the draw and then when we hit the corner where the ground is blown away, she didn’t enjoy that and lost confidence in the ground.”

Oisin Murphy (Loving Gaby): “Very pleased with her run, she put herself in a good spot, a little bit lost around the turn, she’s got a big future.”