Tuesday 01 April, 2014

Brad Waters

Unencumbered will wear blinkers for the first time in the Golden Slipper at Rosehill.

Trainer Bjorn Baker has worked Unencumbered in blinkers since his second to Ghibellines in the Todman Stakes.

Unencumbered pleased his Golden Slipper jockey Craig Williams with his last piece of serious work before Saturday’s race at Warwick Farm on Tuesday.

“His work was excellent and the progression from his last race to his work this morning was terrific,” Williams said.

The Victorian jockey secured the mount on Unencumbered when regular rider Nathan Berry became seriously ill in Singapore.

Berry remains in hospital as he battles NORSE Syndrome and associated complications.

Williams acknowledged Berry’s role in getting Unencumbered to the Golden Slipper after a campaign that included a win in the Magic Millions Classic.

“Nathan and Bjorn have done all of the work with him and it’s a credit to them the condition the horse is in,” Williams said.

“Nathan’s the reason the horse is where he is now.

“Unencumbered will also carry the prayers and good wishes for Nathan and his family on Saturday for sure.”

Baker said his emotions were mixed heading into the race.

“It’s been a dream run except for what’s happened with Nathan,” Baker said.

“Craig’s a great rider. We’re lucky to have him but at the same time it’s bittersweet.

“Nathan’s a good friend so it’s very tough.”

Luck deserted the Unencumbered team when the colt drew barrier 14 and he is a $13 chance in revised Slipper betting although he remains the TAB’s worst result.

Darley filly Earthquake is the $2.30 favourite while Mossfun is the second pick at $6.

Earthquake’s stablemate Ghibellines is at $9.50.

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