The Group 1 entertainment continues in Australia with the Festival of Racing now officially entering autumn. A slight lull in tempo for Melbourne racing this week filling the gap between the cracking Blue Diamond and Australian Cup meetings, but the Australian Guineas is a genuine G1 of its own right. The honour roll lists such greats as Zabeel, Triscay, Mahogany, Flying Spur, Reset, Miss Finland, Mosheen, Shamus Award and last year's winner Hey Doc - and the first edition was only run in 1986.
After nailing the Futurity Stakes last week in his return to the blog after a long hiatus, Darryl Frenc, @winningpunter1, is in form. You can find more of his work at winningpunter.org.
AU$1m, Group 1, 1600m
Flemington, Saturday 3/3/18
1630 local, 0530 GMT
Only a slightly above average speed in this. There aren’t too many horses that will be keen to take up the running. That should allow John Allen to take his time getting across from the wide draw on Cliff’s Edge. There are a lot of people I have noticed lamenting Cliff’s Edges wide draw but it is probably the best place he could’ve drawn. From there Allen will get choice of taking up the lead or sitting outside leader or even getting to the one out one back spot. Addictive Nature has been leading but I don’t think they will here. Bred to stay but I don’t think he’ll get the mile so more likely that they let Cliff’s Edge go past them. Black Sail ends up right up on the speed from the inside draw. Grunt and Aloisia follow Cliff’s Edge but likely get posted three wide. Tempo won’t be overly strong so I don’t think that completely takes their chances of winning out of the race.
It’s a fairly open market and my assessed market represents that as well, I have only two runners in single figures.
Mighty Boss - I warned about backing him after the C.F Orr and most punters fell into the trap. $101 winner of the Caulfield Guineas, I can’t back him in this.
Cliff’s Edge - Deserves to be favourite. Perfect race shape and perfect draw. Second best run of the day last time out behind Grunt who beat him. He has a few swings on Grunt in this race. Weights don’t matter as much as people will have you think but he does get a 3.5kg weight swing on Grunt. Out to a mile in a slower race is the other swing that Cliff’s Edge gets his way. It was very likely that Grunt was primed last start as they needed to win to get his rating high enough to get in, where Cliff’s Edge had plenty of improvement to come in him. He can get close to peaking here now that he is finally out to the mile. We saw him last prep need to get right out in trip before we saw his best. The fact that he just about matched his PB over 1400m is a sign that he is flying and will be very hard to beat now getting out to a trip.
Embellish - He lacks the turn of foot that others in the race have. He was really strong through the line in the CS Hayes and after the post was just about in front of the other runners. He just takes a long time to get wound up. He might need further than the mile and I won’t be backing him here but exotic players would be remiss to leave him out of their calculations.
Levendi - Blinkers go on but I don’t see him having the speed to settle in the first five or six. Plain first up, only travelling a length faster than Holy Snow to the 400 but over the last 400 was nearly four lengths slower. His Carbine Club win was good to the eye but not really impressive on the clock. Would need to improve a lot to win this.
Muraaqeb - Another horse that I would be having in the exotics. Will be getting back and running on. Horse has no early speed whatsoever so that’s a big issue. Likely to be outsprinted by Main Stage. Can’t back it the win but could have it in the exotics.
Villermont - Was my Derby horse last pep before he had a tough run and they skipped the Derby and went to the Sandown Guineas. First up was plain but didn’t really get a crack at them. Finding horses with the right platform is where I gain an edge. Villermont has no platform at all to win this. Sat out the back and wasn’t asked for an effort. It’s almost as if he goes into the Guineas first up. I’ll be losing on him.
Main Stage - Strong winning chance. From gate five they can use a bit of speed and have him sitting in the first half of the field. Has shown previously he can sit on pace / just off the pace and still perform. He was huge in the CS Hayes. Second best last 800m of the whole day, seventh best last 600 and ninth best last 400. He peaked in fitness late but had the best mid-race and late speed exertions. Has the Flemington win over Cliff’s Edge over 1800m. He’s a serious horse and at $14 I’ll definitely be backing him.
Addictive Nature - Fan of the horse. He did it tough last start so forgive run there. I just don’t think he will run out a strong mile and he’d have to hit a new PB at the mile to win.
Holy Snow - Blackbooked him after a strong trial leading into his first-up run. Good win first up but it was a weak race. Rated very poorly on the day and on top of that he was in the perfect position to make the run he did. Chance for exotics but I can’t back him.
Salsamor - Has a good run over the mile behind Showtime in the Stutt Stakes. Beaten by Kings’ Command who had the perfect lead up first up this prep. He’s the blow out chance. Has been beaten multiple times by horses in this field but always runs competitively. If it had a lot of luck it could win.
Grunt - Can’t not back this horse. Only loss was to Aloisia. Strong through the line in the CS Hayes when winning. Had the perfect run on the back of Cliff’s Edge that day but doesn’t get the worse run here either. Most people are forgetting that he was only a length of Cliff’s Edge in the run so he still travelled at a strong speed. Had fast sections early compared to horses on the day. There are reasons to say Cliff’s Edge can turn the tables but Grunt is also still improving and will be right in the finish.
Black Sail - Get’s a race shape to suit but hasn’t run a figure yet that suggests he could win this. Happy to bet around him. Could finish fourth - tenth just due to race shape.
Peaceful State - Good win fresh and has the SP profile on his side, starting favourite against these horses. Didn’t perform well enough for me though. I’ll be betting around him.
Mr So And So - 1800m back to 1600m gives him a strong fitness platform. Got a suitable run in the Autumn Stakes and couldn’t beat Holy Snow. Hit the line ok last start but don’t think that’s the A grade form. Happy to risk.
Aloisia - She has the pattern to suggest she can win this. First up last prep was a plain effort she then put a length and two lengths on Shoals and Alizee respectively. Then went to The Valley over 2000m and put Cliff’s Edge to the sword. Trialled averagely heading into her first-up run. Was never going to be there to win. She got snagged back out of the gates. Had the fifth best last 800m of the day. Her peak rating has her in the top ten best 3yos in the country, top three if you only look at runs a mile and longer. At her best, she’s the horse to beat. You have to at least save on her.
Bring Me The Roses - Back in the field and drawn gate 1. No thank you.
There isn’t much wiggle room in the market at the moment with most corps still at 130%. I’ll be looking to have big wins on Aloisia and Main Stage. Aloisia should get to at least $8-10 hopefully. Then I think by tomorrow we should be able to at least get $5 for Cliff’s Edge and $7 about Grunt.
Grunt - 0.8 Units
Cliff’s Edge - 1 Unit
Aloisia - 0.3 Units
Main Stage - 0.3 Units
(based on 100 unit punting bank)
(based on 100 unit punting bank)