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Nash confident Espionage can storm into Slipper contention

3 minute read

Champion jockey Nash Rawiller is warming to Breeders’ Plate winner Espionage being a serious threat to Storm Boy’s hold on next month’s Golden Slipper.

NASH RAWILLER. Picture: Steve Hart

While the Group 2 $300,000 TAB Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) will be Nash Rawiller's first race ride on the colt, Adam Hyeronimus partnered him on debut, he's been taken by how Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott are bringing Espionage along.

Second, third and sixth from the Breeders' have confirmed the form with subsequent wins and Rawiller said in his two barrier trials, particularly the latest, he's felt he's on a contender.

"He feels really high class,'' Rawiller said.

"You can't deny that (Storm Boy) is the top of the mountain at the moment but every time I've sat on this horse's back I've gained more and more confidence in him.

"I hope Saturday is a positive lead to the Slipper and he can continue on from there."

Rawiller has won the Golden Slipper once, that was in 2012 on Pierro who also won the Silver Slipper that year and who also kicked off his illustrious career in the Breeders' Plate.

Now the jockey isn't saying Espionage is the next Pierro but he likes how the colt went about his business to win the season's opening two-year-old feature after being afforded no favours.

"It's a pretty tried and true path, the path he's taking,'' he said.

"I love the fact he won the Breeders', my Slipper winner Pierro was able to win the Breeders by a narrow margin and take the improvement to make it to the Slipper and win and fingers crossed this bloke can do the same.

"He covered a bit of ground and probably never really looked the winner but started to chime in there 100m to go and showed his dominance late I thought.

"He feels like he's really been able to train on and take it to the next level."

Espionage was $2.50 favourite with TAB on Thursday, ahead of stablemate and Breeders' runner-up Straight Charge, and is a $13 chance in Golden Slipper betting, a price that will shorten if he runs up to Rawiller's expectation.

Group 1 winning Godolphin colt Tom Kitten will be second-up in the Group 2 $400,000 Precise Air Hobartville Stakes (1400m) and Rawiller is keen to get back on board.

The Spring Champion Stakes winner found the 1200m under 60kg a bit sharp for him in the Eskimo Prince but found the line late to everyone's liking, running the equal fastest last 200m (11.36, Punter's Intelligence) of the race.

"I think it was more about what he would have done the next 100m than the last 200m you could see,'' Rawiller said.

"He was just starting to get to his top."

Last time Tom Kitten and Rawiller tackled the Rosehill 1400m, in the Ming Dynasty in the spring, it was a race the jockey would like to forget after finding himself wide and near the tail before warming into third place on the line.

He's expecting a different scenario when he meets the duo who finished in front of him that day, Encap and Ceolwulf, again on Saturday.

"We all know he's a horse that will be competitive over seven furlongs and a mile but when he gets out over a further trip that's when he'll get to the next level,'' he said.

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