estijaabSMHThe last words from Hall of Fame trainer John Hawkes to Brenton Avdulla were to emulate the feats of Todman, Vain and Manikato in leading a Golden Slipper from go to whoa as a flying Estijaab channelled some of Australia's sprinting greats in the $3.5 million scamper.

The father-and-sons Hawkes Racing team combined with Emirates Park to win their second Golden Slipper in the past five years as Estijaab gripped on to win the world's richest two-year-old race at Rosehill on Saturday.

The task of leading a frenetic Golden Slipper from start to finish has been reserved for some of the greats of the Australian turf, but Estijaab repelled the challenge of Tony McEvoy pair Oohood and Magic Millions winner Sunlight to write a rare chapter in the Golden Slipper annals.

And the daring tactics came with the blessing of now four-time Slipper winner Hawkes, who watched sons Michael and Wayne celebrate deliriously in the mounting yard at the end of a torrid week in which their stable superstar Chautauqua refused to jump from the barriers in a fourth successive barrier trial.

"The last thing I said to [Avdulla] was, 'they're all going to pull up so you just go forward and in the end they all beat themselves'," Hawkes said.

"We have them ready on grand final day. All the experts were disappointed with her [in the Reisling Stakes], but she was here for her grand final."

And so was her jockey. A gifted rider who was reminded by stewards he was keeping the wrong company away from the track several years ago, Avdulla now has one of Australia's grand slams in his keeping.

Unfazed by Estijaab's outside barrier, Avdulla pinged the $1.7 million filly to the lead, and the same green and white colours carried by Mossfun to victory in the 2014 Golden Slipper were to the fore again.

“You dream of riding Golden Slipper winners. When I was 15 and starting apprentice school I was the biggest in the class, and they said I had 12 months in the saddle and then I was going back to school," Avdulla said.

“Dad probably would have smashed the TV screen and threw it off the balcony at Docklands I’m tipping, and it’s just amazing the team behind me. I went numb [as I crossed the line] and I couldn't believe it.

"She's an absolute gem to ride and an absolute sweetheart. She's about the only horse of a morning I go and see and make sure I give her a pat, because I've got a lot of faith in her.

"She's just a very special individual, and I don't think there are many horses that have led a Golden Slipper and kept running. She's supplied a bit of history, and she's a very valuable mare now."

A year after a $20,000 bargain burst to victory for her mum and dad owners in the Golden Slipper, Sydney's signature race was for the cashed-up in 2018.

Hussain Lootah, the son of Emirates Park owner and Dubai businessman Nasser, put his hand up for one of the most expensive fillies ever to go through an Australian sales ring and reaped the ultimate reward.

"It was our dream to win one Golden Slipper. Now we've won two Golden Slippers and we're extremely happy," he said. "It is a dream come true. She has repaid what she cost. We had a very special filly from the first day. She was a very unique filly and she has shown that."

And it was in no small part due to Avdulla.

"I still can't comprehend what's happening,"he said. "It's a bit of a fairytale. My body's a bit numb and I've been wasting hard to ride 51 kilograms today, and I'm looking for a drink. I'm sure it will sink in eventually."

Adam Pengilly

 

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