New Zealand visitor Xtravagant leads the pre-field Australian Guineas 2016 betting markets ahead of the colt’s debut down under at Flemington Racecourse this weekend in Melbourne.
The $750,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) is the highlight race in Victoria on Saturday and of the 25 three-year-olds still officially in the mix, the early money is on the Stephen Autridge & Jamie Richards-trained son of Pentire Xtravagant.
A five-time winner from eight starts to date back home in NZ, Xtravagant sits top of the futures Australian Guineas odds at $4 through Ladbrokes.com.au.
Winner of last November’s Group 1 NZ 2000 Guineas (1600m), the progressive galloper’s last start was an eight length romp home in the Group 1 NRM Sprint (1400m) in mid-February.
That was enough to suggest he can be competitive down under in the same way Murray Baker’s 2014 NZ 2000 Guineas winner Turn Me Loose has made his mark in Australia with two top level wins including the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) last Saturday.
All going well this weekend and connections of the boom Kiwi raider could set Xtravagant on the short back-up into the $1.5 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) back at Flemington on ‘Super Saturday’, March 12.
The last three-year-old to win the Australian Cup was Super Cool (2013), but no horse has won the Australian Guineas – Cup double since the inception of the former 30 years ago.
Xtravagant is set to touch down in Australia on Wednesday afternoon before being put through a light piece of work on Thursday ahead of the Australian Guineas.
The colt’s long term goal is the iconic $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in the Spring.
The next best in betting for the weekend’s Group 1 is Palentino ($4.80) for Melbourne Cup winning Darren Weir who is after his maiden Australian Guineas win.
Teofilo colt Palentino comes off a second in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 20, a race that Gai Waterhouse’s Australian Guineas winner Wandjina won in the lead-up last Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
Three others follow on $7 with the fellow Weir-trained Mahuta, Press Statement for Chris Waller and Tarzino trained by Mick Price who ran the quinella in the Blue Diamond Stakes last weekend.
Flying Spur colt Mahuta has won his past six starts on the trot including the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) on February 13.
He scratched out of the Group 2 Autumn Classic last weekend in favour of being kept fresh for the Australian Guineas bid on the weekend.
Press Statement won his first-up run in Sydney’s Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago, the Hinchinbrook colt looking for another Melbourne Group 1 after his victory in the Caulfield Guineas over the mile last October.
Tarzino is also second-up on the weekend after a fourth in the Autumn Stakes behind Mahuta in his first run since winning the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington last Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The Autumn Stakes run first-up was a blinder from Tarzino who was closing fast and beaten just over a length, improvement expected as the son of Tavistock gets the extra metres this weekend.
Tarzino will back-up from Saturday’s Australian Guineas in Sydney on Golden Slipper Stakes Day, March 19, in the $600,000 Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
Check out the latest Australian Guineas 2016 odds below courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au, prices set to firm when the final field of acceptances is out later this week.