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Caulfield Guineas preview

A quality card at Caulfield on Saturday, and in line with recent policy, the big race will be the last of the day. Great for us expats living on the other side of the world! While this year's race can't live up to last year's duel between All Too Hard and Pierro, it's still a strong race with plenty of chances. Regular Aussie racing contributor Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85 signs in with his preview of the 'stallion making' race of the spring, with replay video links added where applicable. Unfortunately there are no free links available to either the Bill Stutt Stakes or the Guineas Prelude, at least that I've found.

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$1m Caulfield Guineas

1. Dissident
Before his disappointing ninth in his last start (the George Main) at Randwick, Dissident had put in a string of impressive runs in Sydney, including a second place in both the Run to the Rose and the G1 Golden Rose. His run in the latter was impressive, with a strong run down the straight only to be overtaken at the 100m mark by the outstanding colt Zoustar. In that race he carried the same weight and also drew an outside barrier. His only Melbourne run was as a 2 year old in the Blue Diamond at this track, where he finished midfield. I am impressed enough by his performances in the Run to the Rose and the Golden Rose against quality opposition to rate him as one of the better chances here. George Main replay.

2. Charlie Boy
Getting a lot of good press this prep, Charlie Boy has produced a fast finishing fourth in the Guineas Prelude and a very strong win in the G2 Danehill Stakes where he was just too strong for the opposition. These two runs were much improved on his past form, where he was well outclassed by better horses. Does this prep then place him in a winning position for this race? The inside barrier will help him and he has built up towards this distance, but I am reluctant to take him in a race like the Caulfield Guineas – he has not done enough against horses of this calibre and while he could surprise, I can't have him here. Danehill Stakes win

3. Divine Calling
Divine Calling comes to this race off the back of a win in the G2 Stutt Stakes, as did his erstwhile stablemate Pierro last year, who of course came second in this race in a gut-busting run against All Too Hard, both of who are now sadly retired. It is a bit difficult to know what to make of this horse. While he won a G2 last start, his runs prior to this produced good results but against horses weaker than those in a Guineas field. He did, however, finish second to Zoustar as a 2 year old, who has gone on to be a star in Sydney. His trainer Gai Waterhouse is now aggressively targeting Melbourne, and this combined with his runs this prep is enough for me to rate him as a chance in this race at double figure odds. Sep 14 win.

4. Long John
Talked up as a big prospect for the spring and specifically this race, and it is not hard to see why – Long John has run strongly and consistently since his debut, producing some flashing runs home for four wins from his six starts, the other two runs producing third placings. He has drawn the rails barrier here which makes an interesting contest if he gets trapped. He should help set a fast pace for the race and for mine he stands out as the horse to beat – his past performances and the way he raced in them are too much for me to look past him. Flemington win Sep 7

5. Shamus Award
Hoping to win his first race, this Danny O'Brien-trained colt comes to the Guineas from six placings in his seven starts. A Guineas win as his maiden would be a lovely touch on the day, but a big ask. He was only narrowly beaten in the Stutt Stakes last start by Divine Calling after leading for most of the race and unsuccessfully protesting, and notably finished ahead of Long John two starts back at Moonee Valley. I am not convinced that he has done enough to prepare him for this race though – the Bill Stutt Stakes is traditionally unreliable as a form indicator and from an outside barrier in a race like this, I can't have him. McKenzie Stakes second.

6. Eclair Big Bang
Eclair Big Bang has drifted out since the markets for this race opened and I am not entirely sure why – he has performed strongly since then, and won his last start in fine fashion in the Guineas Prelude, bursting through the pack to beat his contenders here, El Roca and Long John. That race usually being a good form indicator for this race, he has also drawn well which continues the mystery of the market drift. The mile is a new test for him, but he has been built up to the distance and I expect a strong showing from him. This extra distance is probably the biggest question mark over him here, but at the end of his past runs he looked able to push on. Expect a big run. Danehill Stakes third

7. Prince Harada
A hot punters favourite for the early spring, Prince Harada has drifted a bit since the markets for this race opened, but remains one of the preferred options. His last run was in the Golden Rose, which was a tough race and it is not yet clear whether it is useful as a form indicator. Finishing fifth, Prince Harada started charging forward from the back of the field, but got held up and was unable to make headway. I am willing to forgive that run, and his last start before that produced a second place following a luckless race (he was checked twice) and a blistering finish from Fast 'n' Rocking. While also new to the mile, I am rating Prince Harada as a big chance here. A big question though is his wide barrier draw – he has always drawn an inside barrier previously and this combined with the extra distance could trouble him. He has done enough to come from behind in the past however for me to expect a strong race from him. Golden Rose replay

8. Weinholt
A Peter Moody-trained colt hoping to break through at G1 level. Weinholt keeps going towards the line in his races which will help him with the step up in distance here. His last start produced a fifth place in the Guineas Prelude against some horses he is facing here, begging the question of whether he is up to the task. Prior to that run he finished second to top contender Long John, but it was a distant second. He has not done enough to show he is up to the task here and I can't take him.

9. Late Charge
Late Charge has followed a similar path to many of the horses here, with his two starts this prep being in the Henry Bucks at Flemington over 1400m (6th place) and then in the Bill Stutt Stakes over a mile at Moonee Valley (fifth place). His runs in both those races were solid enough, without delivering the chocolates. His two runs as a 2 year old delivered two wins so while he shows promise, I can't see the Guineas being his race.

10. El Roca
A lightly raced horse but is one of the shorter horses in early markets. This Fastnet Rock colt produced two wins in New Zealand from his first two starts, with his first (and so far only) Australian race being in the Guineas Prelude where he kicked clear down the straight and only just got beaten by Eclair Big Bang on the line. His run in that race was impressive and he should run straight to the front and try to hang on to the line. After an impressive track gallop this week, he could be hard to chase and I rate him as one of the better chances here, at good odds too. Challenge Stakes NZ win

11. Cluster
Another Fastnet Rock colt, Cluster received a lot of press in the lead up to the Golden Rose following two impressive lead up runs, but he finished midfield in a disappointing performance after going forward early. His first Melbourne run in the Bill Stutt Stakes was better, finishing strongly in a narrow 3-way contest. He will probably settle near the back of the pack and while he certainly has ability to flash home, he may find it difficult to catch the leaders here and I would look elsewhere. Run to the Rose 5th replay.

12. Nite Rocker
A big step up in class at just the fourth start for this colt, who has drawn widely in barrier 14. While he has performed well in his lead up runs, a Group 1 is a huge leap and he will find it too tough here.

13. Great Esteem
In 5 starts, this horse has run third twice, and in his last race, a 1700m 3yo handicap, he ran 10 out of 13 starters. He has shown ability in finishing strongly and running to the line, but he is too outclassed here to have any significant impact on the race.

14. Marwood
After two good wins in the country, Marwood ran a decent sixth in the Guineas prelude, holding on down the straight but not able to make ground on the leaders. He has drawn well for the race and has successful hoop Brett Prebble on board, but he will find it too tough here. I would mark him as one to watch for the future, but it won't be his day.

Suggested Bet
The early markets reflect roughly how I think this race will pan out. It's hard to go past EL ROCA and LONG JOHN, and then I would look to ECLAIR BIG BANG and PRINCE HARADA ahead of DISSIDENT and DIVINE CALLING. There is value to be had – at the time of writing the favourite was paying $4.00 with the others following.

EL ROCA
LONG JOHN
ECLAIR BIG BANG
PRINCE HARADA

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