LOCAL Emerald part-owned Boom two-year-old filly Sunlight strengthened her grip on the upcoming Golden Slipper on March 24 for Emerald part-owners the Fletcher family.
The family's star Magic Millions-winning filly last Saturday scored a stirring victory at Rosehill over Estijaab in one of the races of the season.
There was a neck between the two star fillies in the Group Two Silver Slipper (1100m), with the pair clearing out from the pack by a massive margin.
The Hawkes Racing- trained Estijaab started a warm $2.05 favourite in what was her second start, with punters recognising the more experienced Sunlight would be vulnerable given she was returning from a spell and had not had the opportunity for a preparatory barrier trial.
Sunlight, the McEvoy- trained and Adelaide-based Zoustar filly, was sent out a juicy $2.90 in the betting.
Rae Fletcher said the family was amazed at the filly's fighting determination, given Sunlight had not raced since her triumph in the $2million Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast on January 13.
Adding merit to her performance is the quality of second-placed Estijaab, who lost few admirers as her and Sunlight settled into a two-horse war, careering away from a high-class field of juveniles, including the formerly unbeaten Gongs and Neutrality some seven lengths in their wake.
Rae spoke of her as a true professional and, given the time Sunlight spent as a guest at Tony Gollan's Eagle Farm stables in her groundbreaking lead-up to the Magic Millions, cheekily claimed the horse was now an adopted Queenslander, with toughness to match.
Racing pundits have universally acclaimed the Silver Slipper as a decisive lead-up to next month's Golden Slipper and all eyes were on Rosehill, even despite a capacity field contesting the Group One Blue Diamond at Caulfield on the same day.
Grahame Begg's unbeaten colt Written By was ultra-impressive in winning by a decisive margin, and yet betting markets were driven by the Group Two Sydney feature as Sunlight cemented her position at the head of markets, firming from $6 to $4.60 for the $3.5million feature, the richest race for two-year- olds in the world.
Sydney jockey Tim Clark, who deputised for connections with Sunlight's regular Melbourne jockey Luke Currie riding at Caulfield, was very impressed with Sunlight's win.
"She came back underneath me nicely, she is very push-button like that,” he said.
"My filly was out on her feet the last 100m but showed a great will to win.
"I do feel she still has probably up to three lengths' improvement in her.”
Assistant trainer Calvin McEvoy, deputising for his father Tony, who was in Melbourne with four runners in the Blue Diamond, said post-race they would follow the pattern they used with Sunlight in the lead-up to the Magic Millions by running her a week prior.
"She will run in the Magic Night the week before the Slipper,” he said.
"She has shown how effective she is on the week back-up.”
Sunlight has now had five starts. Her only defeat came in her first race, when she ran third in the Listed Maribyrnong Plate trial at Flemington in October.
She has amassed prizemoney close to $1.8million for her group of all-female owners, which include Emerald's Rae Fletcher and her daughters Shannon and Jordan.
Should she win the Golden Slipper, she will become the highest-stakes-earning two-year-old ever, anywhere in the world.
No filly has done the Magic Millions/Golden Slipper double, meaning the powerhouse daughter of Zoustar and former outstanding two-year-old Solar Charged will have to make history to achieve it.
Rae and the girls are set to be trackside in roughly three weeks to see their bonny filly and Rae is adamant that win, lose or draw, the outstanding filly will always be the apple of her eye.
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