Tony McEvoy will have another shot at winning the Golden Slipper with Inglis’ millennium winner Xtravagant Star after two near misses in the world’s richest juvenile race.
The exciting filly Xtravagant Star maintained her unbeaten record and gave trainer Tony McEvoy reason to believe he could finally get his hands on that elusive Golden Slipper trophy after an impressive win at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Xtravagant Star ran on speed, forged flawlessly and held off a classy field of two-year-olds to win the $2 million Inglis Millennium (1100m).
McEvoy, who trains in partnership with his son Calvin, has revealed his burning ambition to win a Golden Slipper after his fillies, Oohood (second) and Sunlight (third) finished behind Estijaab in the most world’s richest four years ago.
“I ran second and third in a slipper, I want to win one,” McEvoy said.
“I would love to come back for this race and it’s the big race, isn’t it!”
Returning jockey Chad Schofield rode his biggest winner since returning from a seven-year stint in Hong Kong when he guided Xtravagant Star ($15 in $7) to a 1¾ win over Paris Dior (3, $30 favourite) with previously undefeated Sejardan ($6) pulling away third after enduring a wide run.
Xtravagant Star and Paris Dior, two of only three fillies among the 16 starters in the Inglis Millennium, were sensationally backed and duly ran the quinella of the big race.
The result comes after the fillies finished in the top four in the Magic Millions won by Coolangatta last month.
Schofield, who was a teenage apprentice when he won the 2013 Cox Plate on Shamus award before leaving for Hong Kong, said it had been nearly a decade since he had ridden in Sydney before making his back this summer.
His victory in Xtravagant Star was a demonstration of his immense skill as a pilot but even more satisfying for personal reasons.
“Calvin McEvoy is my best friend, so that helps,” Schofield said.
“He was one of my best friends for a long time and was one of my groomsmen at my wedding.”
Schofield described Xtravagant Star as a “little ripper”.
“I tried her a few weeks ago and she tried really well,” Schofield said.
“She knows her job, she’s a little racehorse.”
Xtravagant Star was so impressive that his odds were reduced from $101 to $21 for $5 million Golden Slipper (1,200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 19.
Tony McEvoy has revealed he has some “great decisions” to make regarding Xtravagant Star’s fall racing campaign.
“We can go to the (Blue) Diamond in three weeks, or we can just focus on the Slipper – it’s a bit difficult to do both, I think,” McEvoy said.
“I don’t think we’ll be greedy. I think we’ll target one or the other. This is what owners will want to do.
“As a trainer I have a beautiful filly who can go where we want to take her and I think it will be up to them which way they want to go and I will support her.
“Today was about, are we good enough? And now we can think about what to do.”
McEvoy bought Xtravagant Star for $150,000 at the Melbourne Premier Sale last year and admitted he didn’t expect the filly to make such an impression as a two-year-old.
“As a yearling she had a big powerful ass and she had a big swagger. We loved him and I was a fan of Xtravagant as a racehorse,’ the trainer said.
“She is out of a Sebring mare and her grandmother was a champion two-year-old, but I never intended to make her a two-year-old mare to be honest.
“But she got out of left field a bit. She just wanted to be at the front of the bus. Everything we did, every preparation, she wanted to lead the pack, so we thought we were just going with her.
Paris Dior, coached by Peter and Paul Snowden, drew barrier 10, took a long way back early but finished strong to grab second place.
“The barrier beat her – but what do you do,” said Paul Snowden.
“We just had to go too far even though she had a great race behind the favourite.
“It was her third race, so we’ll see how she does, but she’s obviously a good filly.”
Gary Portelli wondered what could have happened after Sejardan was forced to run three and four without cover for most of the race.
“Sejardan had an early bump and was turned sideways, Jason (Collett) thought I couldn’t go back now so I have to take my meds. The colt ran a great race for third place” , said Portelli.
“But it was not the day of the grand final and he has improvements to come. I liked the way he ran, seeing him continue to grind the line.
“The Golden Slipper is going to be great, we’ll have a real crack, but when he gets to the Sires at seven furlongs (1400m) he’ll really come to the fore with the slower tempo, his big turn of the foot and he’s strong.
“He will spend a week on the farm and then come back to work. I’m going to give him a canter between races and then the Todman Stakes a fortnight in the Golden Slipper.”
Originally published as Inglis Millennium: Tony McEvoy targets Golden Slipper with undefeated filly Xtravagant Star