Up-and-coming jockey Ben Melham is confident going into tomorrow’s $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) that his mount Running Tall has what it takes to claim an upset 2011 Golden Slipper result.
Running Tall, a son of 2005 Golden Slipper winner Stratum, is currently rated a $31 outsider in the latest Golden Slipper odds having drifted out from his earlier price of $26.
Runaway winner of the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) last start, the Danny O’Brien-trained colt broke his maiden status with a smart two length victory in the Flemington feature on March 12.
Before the VRC Sires’ Produce win, Running Tall had started three times running third to Arctic Command in the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) on debut in November, second to Sepoy in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) and then finished a well-beaten seventh in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) on February 26 when wearing blinkers for the first time.
Melham has been aboard for Running Tall for their past three starts.
On Saturday in the Golden Slipper, Running Tall is set to jump from a good barrier eight draw.
The gate will give Melham a number of options on where to take the colt.
“I’m happy with the barrier and I’m extremely happy with the horse,” Melham said.
The 2011 Golden Slipper is Melham’s first ride in the two-year-olds’ feature.
The jockey is no stranger to the pressure of a Group 1 ride, however, having scored his first elite level win aboard the mighty Black Caviar in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) on Emirates Stakes Day last spring.
Since the Sires Produce Running Tall showed he had progressed well with a top workout at Flemington earlier in the week.
“His action is the best it’s been all preparation and he looks a million dollars,” Melham said.
The step down from 1400m to 1200m is also in Running Tall’s favour.
The only other Slipper starter on Saturday that has run over 1400m is the Lee Freedman-trained Masthead coming off a fourth place finish in the VRC Sires’ Produce beaten three lengths by Running Tall.
Running Tall is out to emulate the feats of five two-year-olds before him in completing the VRC Sires Produce Stakes / Golden slipper double along with Pago Pago (1963), Storm Queen (1966), Vain (1969), Full On Aces (1980) and most recently Canny Lad in 1990.
The 2011 AAMI Golden Slipper is set to start at 4:05pm (AEDST) at Rosehill tomorrow, the seventh race on a bumper all black-type programme that has over $7 million in prize money on offer.