Bush baby Rocket Tiger is taking his connections on the ride of a lifetime in a journey they hope can continue all the way to the $3.5 million Golden Slipper.
Home-bred, by an unfashionable sire in Cluster, and raced by a Murray River cod farmer, the unbeaten youngster is a clear underdog as he prepares to go up against a host of blue-bloods in Saturday’s Group Two Silver Slipper (1100m).
His Wagga trainer Scott Spackman, who has just a handful of horses in work, will find himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Chris Waller, James Cummings and Michael Hawkes in the Rosehill mounting yard.
And he could not be more excited.
“As a bloke said to me yesterday, you’ve got to enjoy these moments because you never know when they will come around again,” Spackman said.
“I have been blessed as a trainer. I don’t know how these big boys do it all the time but I’ve had a Country Championships (Qualifier) winner, I’ve had two Country Championships finalists and I got a horse into the first Kosciuszko.
“That is a feat in itself for a small stable of no more than eight in work at any given time.
“We strive to achieve and I think we have but we have our slow ones too. We went to Tumut last week and couldn’t win a maiden.”
Spackman originally planned to set Rocket Tiger for the Black Opal Prelude but on the strength of the juvenile’s form and trackwork, he is aiming higher.
The youngster is not nominated for the Golden Slipper but if he can win on Saturday, Spackman confirmed his owners would pay the late entry fee to run in the world’s richest two-year-old race.
“If he wins the Silver Slipper, he will be in the Golden Slipper. There will be no ifs, buts or maybes. They will pay the money,” Spackman said.
Having a Golden Slipper runner would be a dream for a boutique stable and might even stop the ribbings Spackman has been receiving from his mates.
The trainer has nominated Rocket Tiger for the T J Smith Stakes, alongside the likes of Nature Strip, Bivouac and Farnan.
When asked how realistic the unorthodox goal was for a two-year-old, Spackman paused.
Throwing in entries for Group One races is not a regular part of a country stable’s routine and Spackman eventually admits he might have confused the feature Sydney sprint with the Queensland two-year-old race of the same name.
His mates won’t let him live it down.
“I’ve had quite a few blokes have a little swipe at me about that and I just keep smiling and saying, ‘yep, that’s where I’m going’,” Spackman said.
If Rocket Tiger can get into a Golden Slipper, Spackman will have the last laugh.