Class will carry Golden Slipper favourite Earthquake through Rosehill slush

Murk and gloom on Friday raised doubts about favourite Earthquake in the $3.5 million Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens. ''Mossfun is a proven wet-tracker and has had the perfect preparation for the race,'' Sportsbet's Shaun Anderson said. ''If the track is very heavy, she could potentially push for favouritism.'' The track was described as a slow six on Friday but more rain will bring market alterations. Unlike Mossfun, Earthquake is untried on tracks other than good. Only recently, Cancel, a full-sister to Earthquake, being by Exceed And Excel out of Cataclysm, finished a dismal last on a Hawkesbury heavy 10 on March 27. Cancel was $3.50 favourite. Still, Betfair's Dom Beirne has Earthquake on top. His computer ratings indicate a margin in favour of Earthquake by three-quarters of a length to Mossfun, with about a further 1½ lengths to Unencumbered, he said. ''On the dry with no penalties for barrier draw and speed map, the IWS [ratings] market would have priced Earthquake $1.70 and Mossfun $6.50. In the past 25 years, the lowest IWS handicap ratings ever to win a Golden Slipper were 63 for a filly and 64.3 for a male. This year, only the two fillies are predicted to reach 63. The other 14 runners have provided no evidence that they can get to this historical minimum. Of course, two-year olds can improve sharply, but realistically, if either of the favourites rate to expectation (their potential rating), the remainder can't win.'' Alas, heavy surfaces can play havoc with ratings assessed on better going. To what degree barrier positions will play a role will depend on how the surface reacts to seven races before the main event. If reserve Scratch Me Lucky doesn't run, Earthquake launches from 12 while Mossfun is in 11. Thus Kerrin McEvoy on Earthquake should always have Mossfun in his sights. Early speed is anticipated from Eloping (14) and Oakleigh Girl (10). I'm gambling that Earthquake will be effective in all going. She'll need to be to beat Mossfun - if it comes up mud.

Verdict: Earthquake 1, Mossfun 2, Ghibellines 3, Bring Me The Maid 4.

FORGIVE LAST RUN

Voleuse De Coeurs, an Irish St Leger winner, could firm in the market even further if the ground sinks to heavy for The BMW. Apparently her European form in the wet is good. Betfair reported support had taken her price from $12 to $8.50 on the exchange. Now trained by Michael Moroney, Voleuse De Couers was fifth behind her main rival, Fiorente, in the Australian Cup at Flemington at her first start after a spell but beaten about two lengths on good. Fiorente has scored on slow, while top contender Silent Achiever has had two wins and a second on slow from four attempts. It's A Dundeel, the New Zealander which promised so much this campaign, has handled slow but a pall has been cast over him because of ongoing hoof delicacy, still evident considering shoeing manipulation this week. Incidentally, owner Lloyd Williams scratched Green Moon and Mourayan because of the anticipated surface.

Verdict: Fiorente 1, Silent Achiever 2, Voleuse De Coeurs 3, It's A Dundeel 4.

STAY FAITHFUL

Heavy conditions should suit Marianne in the Vinery in which visitors from Victoria and New Zealand have top prospects. Main local hope Zanbagh has won on heavy but the addition of bar plates up front rings alarm bells. While it could assist a hoof problem, most keen judges gamble against horses that require the plate change. I'd have her on top without them. Marianne triumphed over the Moonee Valley mile on March 21 in which Solicit, with a slow success to her credit, was a forgivable fourth, and is out to make amends. By race seven, jockey Craig Williams will have his water divining stick working overtime to find the best path for Marianne. Rising Romance has good New Zealand credentials but has had a stone bruise.

Verdict: Marianne 1, Rising Romance 2, Solicit 3, Zanbagh 4.

HAWKES' IMPROVER

Leebaz will be out to continue the winning streak of the Hawkes stable in the Doncaster Prelude. From seven starts, the four-year-old has notched five wins, including one on slow, and a second. Sure, Leebaz is up in class but has been winning with authority. Weary is a big hope, too.

Verdict: Leebaz 1, Almighty Charge 2, Weary 3, Malavio 4.

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