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Australian Guineas preview

The 3yo feature of the Melbourne autumn/Festival of Racing/Relaxed Racing/ schedule is the Australian Guineas over the metric mile. As Manny says below, it's had a chequered run as to how prestigious the race turns out to be each year, but it is that all-important Group 1, and on paper, this is quite a decent field.

Returning after his assessment and tip last week were spot on, is astute form analyst Manny Galouzis, @mannygalouzis.

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Australian Guineas

G'day punters! All eyes on Flemington this week as we are treated to another edition of the Group 1 Australian Guineas. I hope some of you followed me in at the 9/4 on Moment of Change last week; fingers crossed we can make it two in a row! But first, a little bit of history on the great race.

Inaugurated in 1986, the Australian Guineas has been won by some decent horses over the years. That being said, in recent times, many of the winners have not gone on to do much else later in their careers. No Guineas winner since 2007 has gone on to win an open class Group 1. Enough history, time to find a winner.

1. Shamus Award

First-up after the strangest Cox Plate I've ever seen, my eyes were firmly planted on Shamus Award in the G1 Orr Stakes. Not from a financial perspective, but just to see if he is the real-deal, or if it was a fluke win. After the Orr, I'm not totally convinced either way. It was a decent enough run for a horse wanting further, but his inclination to lay-in and the fact he was only a few lengths behind Moment of Change on a slowish pace makes me want to risk him here. From barrier 9 he should be pressing forward and more than likely settle outside the leader. I think he is a place chance but I can't see him winning this.

2. Criterion

Quite a slashing first-up run for a horse who is going to be best over a minimum of 10 furlongs. I really like the way he finished off in the G3 CS Hayes Stakes, but I couldn't see him winning here. He will settle closer to last and storm home in a similar fashion to last start. Rough place chance but he won't be winning.

3. Eurozone

Unlucky not to have won first-up in the G1 Orr Stakes, Eurozone's credentials have been further confirmed after Moment of Change came out last week and won the G1 Futurity in impressive fashion. His last 100m was very encouraging and that says to me that this horse is cherry ripe going into Saturday's race. Bart came out a few days ago and said that he wasn't sure how Hucklebuck was favourite over Eurozone and I have to say, I agree with the great man. Eurozone should be the clear favourite for mine and I am all but declaring him in this race. The one to beat.

4. Thunder Fantasy

A very nice win first-up in the G2 Autumn Stakes, however he did have an absolute dream run in transit. He should get a similar run again here and could give punters a decent sight for the money at the 13/1 available. One of the chances.

5. Hucklebuck

The pre post favourite for the race for a while now, Hucklebuck will be out to try and give trainer Phillip Stokes his first Group 1 victory outside of Adelaide. This horse has built up a very impressive record of five wins from seven starts, never being out of a place. After his win last start, he cemented his favouritism for this race, but I am going to risk him. I am slightly worried about barrier eight, taking into consideration that the horse is usually in the first three pairs in running AND the Flemington 1600m start almost immediately goes into a large turn until they hit the home straight. This, in conjunction with Eurozone's last run being more impressive (in my humble opinion) means I think he is unders at the 11/4 currently available. He is obviously a massive chance of winning the race, but I'm taking him on.

6. Prince Harada

Tony Vasil has had massive wraps on this colt since day dot. He clearly has a ton of ability, but has trouble putting it altogether. I thought he stuck on very nicely last start. I don't think he can win, but if he has no issues then I can definitely see him running a place.

7. Rock Hero

David Payne has instructed that he will be ridden much quieter than last start here and based on that alone, I'm putting a pen through him. You won't see this horse's best until the ATC Derby, which has been the plan all along. Watch out for him finishing nicely down the outside, but he shouldn't be fighting out the finish.

8. Surge Ahead

Would have to improve 10 lengths to beat this lot, not for mine.

9. Teronado

I thought he finished off nice enough in the CS Hayes, but he will be giving them a very big start on the home turn. Pass.

10. The Quarterback

I liked his run last start, finishing off well enough to be beaten 2L. Barrier 11 makes things tricky. Could run a place, don't think he can win though.

11. Late Charge

See The Quarterback. Nice run last start, beaten 2L. Barrier 12, goes back and runs on. Can't win.

12. Alpha Beat

Not sure what Anthony Cummings is doing here; back in distance from the 1800m of the G2 Autumn Classic. He is 66/1 and that's probably a fair price. No.

13. Bardem

Only beaten 2.2L by Thunder Fantasy last start. I've probably seen worse 66/1 shots. That being said, can't have him here.

14. Artie's Shore

Beaten in a BM70 and then next start wins the Australian Guineas? Didn't think so. If he can run 8th and pick up $10,000 for connections, he's done well.

Surge Ahead will probably do just that and utilise its inside draw to take up the running, Shamus Award coming across from barrier 9 to sit outside of it. Prince Harada and Thunder Fantasy are likely to be the next two in running, and then Eurozone slotting in one off the fence outside of Bardem. Hucklebuck and Criterion next, with the rest of the field bringing them up. I'm not expecting a overly fast tempo. Horses settling in the first half of the field will be much better off than the rest of them. Eurozone and Thunder Fantasy should get the best runs in the race I think.

I've marked Eurozone a $2.60 favourite in this and given that as much as $5.00 is currently available with some corporates, he is a big bet for mine. Barrier 8 or not, Hucklebuck is in this up to his ears. I just can't get excited about the price. Thunder Fantasy could be a nice place bet at odds of about $3.75. He will lob in a handy spot and should be somewhere thereabouts in the home straight. Finally, if they go overly slow in front, Shamus Award could have a nice little kick left and take us all back to that fateful day at the Valley.

Selections:

3. Eurozone
5. Hucklebuck
4. Thunder Fantasy
1. Shamus Award

Recommended Bet:

Back EUROZONE the win.

Good luck punters, and as always, there is no such thing as the last race.

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