James McDonald rides Microphone to victory the Skyline Stakes at Randwick on Saturday. Picture: Simon Bullard/AAP
James McDonald rides Microphone to victory the Skyline Stakes at Randwick on Saturday. Picture: Simon Bullard/AAP

Microphone sounds ominous warning for Slipper

GODOLPHIN'S Golden Slipper team seems to be bigger and stronger every week.

Microphone added his name to the "Blue Army's'' long list of Slipper hopefuls with an impressive Sydney debut win in the Group 2 $200,000 Skyline Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer James Cummings, who has a powerful squad of brilliant juveniles being aimed at the Golden Slipper, including early favourites Tassort and Exhilarates, said Microphone had proved he was one of the stable's best two-year-olds.

"Full credit to Microphone, you'd have to rate him right there at the moment,'' Cumming said.

"There was good acceleration from the colt. He's from a good family, the family of Yell.

"Even though he got 'lost' on his Melbourne leg he will take a great deal of improvement from the experience.

"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 and come Slipper day he'll be like a young man with a new suit."

Microphone ($2.40 favourite) forged clear to win by a widening one-and-a-quarter lengths margin from Cosmic Force ($14), with Castelvecchio ($4.40) two lengths away third.

"He's a beauty,'' enthused James McDonald, the rider of Microphone.

"He's got a big motor and he's such a pleasure to ride. He jumps well, puts himself in the race, relaxes, and he's got a great turn of foot.

"Onwards to the Slipper. Obviously James has got a very strong hand in the race.

"The way he is coming on and he acts, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with.''

Microphone firmed into $9 with Ladbrokes for the $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 23.

However, on a sobering note, the Skyline Stakes hasn't been the most reliable of Golden Slipper guides in recent years.

Dance Hero (2004) is the most recent winner of the Skyline Stakes-Golden Slipper double, joining Sir Dapper (1983), Star Watch (1988), Guineas (1997) and Prowl (1998) as winners of both races.

Stratum (2005) was the last Golden Slipper winner to contest a Skyline, finishing second to Snitzel.

Cosmic Force raced on the speed and was left vulnerable to Microphone's powerful late surge so his effort to finish second was full of merit.

Castelvecchio showed he was more a Sires and Champagne colt than a genuine Slipper horse. He was last and under pressure to stay in touch with the field until halfway down the straight when he began to surge late for third.

"This was his third run at the 1200m and it might have just found him out. He was first off the bit and it was a big task ahead of him 400m from home,'' jockey Josh Parr said.