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Moore to Ride Justify Colt in Golden Slipper

Ryan Moore will ride raging Golden Slipper (G1) favorite Storm Boy in the March 23 AU$5 million (US$3,280,500) race at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in Sydney. The star jockey will be aiming to make it back-to-back wins in the crucial stallion-making contest, but for Coolmore this selection is just one piece of the puzzle.

Coolmore orchestrated a massive deal, worth reportedly up to AU$60 million with bonuses, to buy a controlling interest in the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained 2-year-old colt by 2018 American Triple Crown winner Justify   after his powerful victory in the Magic Millions 2-Year-Old Classic in January.

Coolmore confirmed March 14 that Moore, who rode the ownership group’s Shinzo  to win last year’s Slipper, would fly to Sydney to partner Storm Boy at Rosehill.

James McDonald, who rode Storm Boy for the first time in his dominant Skyline Stakes (G2) performance March 2, will instead take up the ride on Coolmore’s second favorite, the unbeaten colt Switzerland. The premier Sydney rider has been on board the Chris Waller-trained Switzerland, a AU$1.5 million (US$1,017,928) Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale graduate, at his past two starts. 

“We’re in an extremely fortunate position to have the services of two of the best jockeys in the world to ride two incredibly talented colts,” Coolmore Australia’s racing and bloodstock manager John Kennedy told ANZ Bloodstock News. “The barrier draw will be important for both horses, but up until now the preparations for both horses have been perfect and they look set to peak on Golden Slipper day. 

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“It’s an incredibly exciting position to be in, we have a great group of partners from all over the world in both colts and they all have a lot to look forward to.” 

Undefeated in four starts, Storm Boy shapes as a pivotal stallion prospect for Coolmore, particularly in Australia as the operation decides whether to shuttle the colt’s brilliant sire Justify to Australia again in 2024. Coolmore has been tight-lipped about whether Justify—the sire of 26 stakes winners worldwide including 2023 American champion 2-year-old filly Just F Y I —will return for his fifth Southern Hemisphere season in six years.

If Justify—who is standing the current season for a private fee at Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky.—does return to Coolmore’s Jerrys Plains stallion roster, it’ll be for significantly more than the AU$77,000 he stood for last spring.

McDonald partnered Storm Boy in an impressive exhibition gallop on the Kensington track at Randwick March 13.

“I’ve been glowing of both colts, they’re unbelievable,” McDonald said. “When they’re first and second favorites, it doesn’t really matter which one you’ll be on … you’ve got a huge chance of winning the Golden Slipper.”

McDonald wasn’t holding any grudges against Moore for taking the ride on the favorite.

“Ryan is the retained jockey so that probably had a play in it. If you’re coming all the way from Europe you’d want to be on the favorite if you can,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule out Switzerland storming over the top of them, don’t worry about that.”

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