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Setsuna sets the pace for crack at Golden Slipper

GAI Waterhouse could add to her six Golden Slippers next year with bargain buy Setsuna being aimed toward the country’s biggest juvenile race after the flying filly scored a tearaway win in the opening race on Cup Day.

Waterhouse holds the record for Slipper wins, along with her late father Tommy Smith, and she and her training partnership Adrian Bott are confident Setsuna can measure up.

The daughter of Choisir, who was sold at the Sydney Inglis Classic Sales to Darby Bloodstock for $55,000 in February, started at $8 on Tuesday. She led from start to finish to score by a 1½ lengths from Roobeena ($10) with Aristocratic Miss ($14) in third place.

Favourite Qafila was one of the hardluck stories, getting back and running on late.

“I think she’s proven herself well and truly this preparation — she’s done enough, we’ll look after her now,” Adrian Bott said. “She’ll have a good spell in the paddock and we’ll bring her back in the autumn for a Golden Slipper campaign.”

Setsuna could easily be undefeated, having won the Inglis Banner on Cox Plate day, and being desperately unlucky in the Gimcrack in late September.

“She was brilliant today, I think that was one of her best performances that we’ve seen,” he said. “She broke cleanly and was very professional so she’s starting to put it all together, showed that natural speed and gave a good kick and gave nothing else a chance to get into the race.

“I was very confident halfway down the straight when (jockey) Stephen (Baster) looked to have a good hold of her, she was travelling strongly, and when she was in that position it was going to be hard to run her down. She didn’t let anything else get into the race.”

Baster continued his good form in the opening race on the big three race days, having saluted in the first on Caulfield Cup day, Cox Plate day and now Melbourne Cup day.

“She’s amazing — we thought she might’ve been getting close to the end of it (her preparation) her last run, but she pulled up and improved from the run, and showed that today,” Baster said. “The race experience obviously helped. She still got there and stargazed, so she won quite convincingly.”

Bott said Baster was riding extremely well for the stable, and he followed it up with another frontrunning victory on Our Crown Mistress later in the day.

“Stephen is incredibly hard working for the stable, he’s a great help and a big part of the team so we were very happy to reward him with the ride,” Bott said. “He suits the horses, he’s a good on-pace jockey and very happy to have that association with him.”

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