Slipper meeting goes ahead spectator-free

Caryl Williamson
Golden Slipper day went ahead in Sydney in front of empty grandstands at Rosehill

The showpiece Golden Slipper meeting has gone ahead smoothly in Sydney under a public lock-out at Rosehill.

Featuring five Group One races,, the Slipper meeting is a vital part of the autumn racing landscape and Saturday was the first test of the bio security protocols surrounding the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world.

Australia is one of several jurisdictions continuing to race, albeit behind closed doors and with essential personnel only.

Although it is known as the sport of kings, the racing industry employs thousands of people on minimum wages and all efforts are being made to keep it afloat.

Gai Waterhouse won a record seventh Slipper with Farnan while the other star of the day was young English jockey Tom Marquand who rode his first Group One winner on British visitor Addeybb and a Group Three race on the horse's stablemate Young Rascal.

After a successful summer stint, Marquand returned to Sydney a couple of days before self-isolation travel protocols kicked in and is likely to be here for some time with racing shut down in England until at least the end of April.

Although the usual Slipper day crowd of 20,000 was absent, Marquand still soaked up the moment.

"A Group One is all I have dreamt of since childhood," he said.

"An international Group One even more so. And an international Group One on an English horse even better. Addeybb was extremely tough. It's on ground that he doesn't really want nor appreciate."

"Thanks to the owners for letting me ride them down here. They could have easily gotten one of the top Sydney jockeys to ride because he was favourite in a Group One.

"II can't thank them both enough for the opportunity."

Marquand hopes to get more opportunities as authorities rally to keep racing through the carnival.

Racing is set to return to Rosehill next weekend before moving to Randwick for the rich Championships on April 4 and 11.