Darley Australia is in preparations for another big carnival assault including a possible four horse raid on the Caulfield Guineas 2014this October.
With new private trainer John O’Shea now settled in, the iconic racing stable is looking ahead to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival features with their promising contingent of rising three-year-olds.
Among them are four colts and geldings with the $500,000 Group 1 BECK Caulfield Guineas (16000m) on October 11 in their sights, a race boss Sheikh Mohammed has enjoyed two victories in over the past three years.
Heading this year’s group out to emulate the wins of Helmet (2011) and Long John (2013) is Ghibellines.
Formerly with Peter Snowden who is now out on his own with son Paul after stepping down from his coveted position at Darley, Shamardal colt Ghibellines is at $21 in the futures Caulfield Guineas odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Those markets are led by Gai Waterhouse’s JJ Atkins winner Almalad ($8.50) and also include Darley’s Blue Diamond Stakes winning filly Earthquake ($13) who is more likely to target either the $500,000 Thousand Guineas (1600m) on the same day or the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on November 1.
Ghibellines has had five career starts to date for one win, a nice Group 2 effort in the Todman Stakes over 1200m in March at Rosehill where they held off a strong challenge from eventual runner-up Unencumbered.
Next start they went to the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m), run on a Heavy (8) Rosehill track on April 5, but could only manage to finish seven lengths away eighth.
The race was won by Mossfun over Ghibellines’ second placed stable mate Earthquake in a fillies’ dominated edition of the lucrative two-year-olds’ feature, Ghibellines actually the best placed male in the race.
Back in light work this week, Ghibellines may be their best chance in early Caulfield Guineas considerations but he certainly isn’t Darley and O’Shea’s only to win the spring classic.
It’s a race the team are keen to secure victory in again as it is a gun event for improving the value of future stud prospects according to Darley’s racing manager Jason Walsh.
“From a stallion point of view, the Golden Slipper is obviously the main race for two-year-olds and we rate the Caulfield Guineas right up there as a most important race from a commercial perspective,” Walsh said.
“We’re very pleased to have a strong team headed towards it again at this stage.”
The other three in line for a Caulfield Guineas campaign are then Meursault, Farolitos and Kumaon.
Medaglia D’Oro colt Meursault debuted at Hawkesbury on May 3 on the back of four trials, two of which they won, and enjoyed an easy three length win over their stable mate Farolitos.
Another son of Medaglia D’Oro, Farolitos also won their debut at Mornington in April before their Hawkesbury second last time out.
“They’re a couple of less-exposed horses with really nice ability,” Walsh said of the Claret Stakes quinella.
“Meursault, who won at Hawkesbury, has only had the one start and we pulled him back from Brisbane in the hope that he will measure up for us on a Caulfield Guineas path, so he’ll be given his chance there.
“Farolitos ran second to him at Hawkesbury and he is another one headed on a Caulfield Guineas path.”
Kumaon meanwhile is better tried with five career starts, including a debut win at Rosehill last December.
They were well performed during the autumn starting with a narrow first-up loss when second to Time For War in the Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) in late March.
From there they suffered a poor run from a wide gate on a mud track in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) where they made up late ground but still finished seven lengths away sixth to the winner Peggy Jean.
Their last run was a much improved effort then when in Group 1 company again, this time stepped up to the mile for the Champagne Stakes (1600m) on April 26 where they finished only a length away third behind Go Indy Go.
Meursault is actually the shortest priced of the team’s Caulfield Guineas hopes at $12 even though they rate Ghibellines as a better fancy.
Farolitos is yet to be added to the markets but Kumaon, who is likely to also run in the $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in Sydney on September on way to the Guineas, is listed as a $26 shot.
“There are quite a few chances for us at this stage,” Walsh said.
“The beauty of this time of year is that they all look likely chances, but as we know they don’t all make it there.”
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