Steeped in history, romance and legend, it is the race that grips the nation.
When it comes to stallions and breeding, however, the race that matters is not “The Cup”, but “The Slipper”.
The G1 Golden Slipper Stakes, the world’s richest two-year-old race, is Australia’s breed-shaper.
From its first winner, Todman in 1957, until today, colts who win the Golden Slipper become the stallions that breeders and buyers want.
Horses like 1969 winner Vain, Marscay, Canny Lad, Flying Spur, Danzero, Catbird, Stratum, Sebring and Sepoy are all Slipper winners and all successful stallions.
The Darley influence is strong among this century’s winners. Should a Darley-sired horse win the Golden Slipper on Saturday, it would mean that 50% of progeny to win the race in the last ten years are by Darley stallions.
Sepoy, who carried Sheikh Mohammed’s maroon and white colours to Slipper victory in 2011, stands at Northwood Park. Pierro, who was bred by Darley, is by Lonhro, the 2015 winner and first-crop sire Vancouver is by Medaglia d’Oro and the 2013 winner, the filly Overreach, is by Exceed And Excel.
With five, and possibly six runners in 2019, Darley has a better-than-usual opportunity to again be at the forefront of the breed-shaping process.
Among the leading contenders for Saturday's Golden Slipper, six are by Darley stallions. Just in 2019, Darley-conceived juveniles have won 56% of all Group races.
Microphone and the emergency acceptor Bivouac are by Exceed And Excel, the same stallion who is the current leader of G1 juvenile winners in Australia since 2010.
The fillies Lyre, from the family of Impending, and Pin Sec are both by Lonhro, Tenley is by Medaglia d’Oro and Kiamichi is by Sidestep who stood at Kelvinside when the filly was bred.
The prominence of the Darley stallions in the Golden Slipper corresponds with the extraordinary success this season of Godolphin's Australian two-year-olds.
Since the first juvenile events of the season in November 2018, 13 individual Godolphin two-year-olds have won 24 races in Australia.
Victory to a colt like Microphone, who is from the family of Holler and the winner of three races, the latest in the traditional Slipper lead up, would carry special significance for his stallion prospects.
Microphone and Bivouac are the only colts among the Godolphin Slipper team, and both are by Exceed And Excel whose daughter Overreach won the Golden Slipper in 2013.
As the world’s leading sire of juvenile Stakes winners, a victory by either of his colts would be a welcome result.
The fillies Lyre, who is trained by Anthony Freedman, and Pin Sec are by Lonhro, whose son Pierro built his successful career as a stallion on his 2012 win – and three other G1s.
Tenley, who is unbeaten in her three starts, is a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, whose Slipper-winning son Vancouver is another stallion.
Pin Sec is also unbeaten, having won the G3 Black Opal Stakes in Canberra two weeks ago.
Whichever way it goes, to have six Darley-sired runners in a G1 race such as the Golden Slipper, is an enviable feat in anyone’s books.