By Michael Cox
The G2 Skyline Stakes hasn't provided the most reliable guide to the G1 Golden Slipper in recent years but it has certainly been a good horses' race and Saturday's winner Microphone (Exceed And Excel) is looking like a bombproof candidate for the world's richest 2-year-old race.
Just three of the previous 30 Skyline winners, and none since Dance Hero (Danzero) in 2004, have gone on to Slipper success, but plenty of great racehores and subsequent sires sit on the honour roll.
Strategic was hot favourite in 1995 but was luckless in running, but he went on to sire 25 individual winners of 46 stakes races and many more since have gone on to successful stud careers, even if they couldn't on Slipper day.
The Skyline has moved locations nine times between all four Sydney racecourses since Strategic's victory but has provided a steady stream of future stallions including Viscount (2001) and Choisir (2002), followed by Snitzel, Casino Prince, Murtajil, All American, Manhattan Rain and Hinchinbrook between 2005 and 2010 inclusive.
Since then Godolphin's stallion Exosphere added his name to the list in 2015 and now Microphone is building a candidacy for a future stud career of his own with three classy wins, two of them at stakes level and a second in the L. Blue Diamond Preview from his first four starts.
First though, the Slipper, and even though making it to the top of the Godolphin 2-year-old pecking order is hard enough, Microphone continues to build a compelling case for the big one.
"The way he (Microphone) is carrying on, the way he acts, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with." - Jockey, James McDonald
"He is a beauty, I could just imagine him being in the stable, just eat sleep and drink, he is so casual, he jumps well, puts himself in the race and has a great turn of foot," James McDonald said after the Skyline win. "It is onwards to the Slipper now, obviously James (Cummings) has got a very strong hand in the race, the way he (Microphone) is carrying on, the way he acts, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with."
Slipper questions answered
Despite a comprehensive win in the L Talindert Stakes there were still question marks surrounding Microphone's suitability to the Sydney way of going and a step up to 1200m, but the youngster answered both with aplomb.
"There was suspects of him running a strong six furlongs but he has just knocked that on the head," McDonald said. That strong Godolphin hand now has the breeding giant holding the top four positions in some pre-post Slipper markets, with Tassort (Brazen Beau) favourite ahead of Microphone and fellow James Cummings-trained talent Exhilarates (Snitzel), with Anthony Freedman's G1 Blue Diamond winner Lyre (Lonhro) also prominent in betting.
"Come Slipper day he’ll be like a young man with a new suit.” - Trainer James Cummings
“Full credit to Microphone. You’d have to rate him right there at the moment," Cummings said, pointing to the colt's low maintenance nature as a big positive heading towards the Golden Slipper. “This horse came here today up from Melbourne not long ago but we’ve barely breathed on him since he arrived. He’s going to tighten up as clean winded as he is. Come Slipper day he’ll be like a young man with a new suit.”