Slipper still in picture for Witness

Blue Diamond Stakes winner Star Witness could yet be a late entry into next month's $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes at Rosehill, with trainer Danny O'Brien set to make a final decision this week.

O'Brien said yesterday that he saw his unbeaten Starcraft colt at his Barwon Heads property last Friday and was taken with the horse's appearance.

Star Witness has remained in light work as part of his build-up to next season.

''He's been working out of a paddock at the Barwon Heads property and going down to Thirteenth Beach to canter around and he's in fantastic order. I saw him on Friday and he looked super,'' O'Brien said.

To include Star Witness in the world's richest two-year-old race on April 3, his connections will have to pay a $150,000 late-entry fee. The colt, who is unbeaten in his three runs, has already earned $717,700.

O'Brien said that the Golden Slipper was never totally out of his thoughts and not only because a horse only got the one chance at the rich juvenile event.

''But it's more that I'm very mindful that it's a long way from the Blue Diamond [February 20] to the start of the spring when you consider he'd probably kick-off in something like the Danehill Stakes in September.''

''Because there is such a break, I'll be keeping him in work until the end of March as he wouldn't go back into work until the start of June.''

O'Brien, who has never had a Golden Slipper Stakes runner, said that he was fully aware that history was against such a tilt.

''Of course, I am very wary of the graveyard the Golden Slipper is for Blue Diamond winners. There hasn't been a winner of the two races since Courtza [1989] so that has to be considered,'' he said.

''But going on the horse's condition and the fact that he's got such a long time between runs, we have to take a serious look at it.''

The inclusion of Star Witness would add intrigue into this year's Slipper, which is now dominated by the two unbeaten Sydney fillies, Solar Charged and Chance Bye.

Solar Charged, who won last Saturday's Kindergarten Stakes by 4.5 lengths at only her second run, is the Slipper favourite at $4.60 ahead of Chance Bye ($6), who has won her three starts.

The Blue Diamond Stakes' third placegetter Beneteau, who could line up in Saturday's Skyline Stakes at Randwick, is third favourite at $7.

O'Brien is enjoying a charmed run with his juvenile team and was delighted to see his promising staying filly Shamrocker cause a boilover in Saturday's Sires' Produce Stakes at Flemington at odds of $26.

But O'Brien explained yesterday that she was unlikely to race again this season as she was being aimed at the fillies' classics in the spring.

''She does look like an Oaks filly and there's nothing really around for her now except for a race like the [1600 metre] Champagne Stakes [at Randwick, April 24] but that's a long way off.''

O'Brien reported that his two Australian Cup horses, Master O'Reilly and Barbaricus, took no harm from Saturday's storm.

Story by Andrew Eddy, to view full Age story click here

Photos by Bruno Cannatelli, to view Bruno's website click here