Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Sydney-based Chris Waller is stepping-up the autumn lead-up work for his Australian Guineas 2018 hopefuls as the trainer chases his first win in the Flemington mile feature this season.
The Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m) takes place on March 3 and could be a nice early Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival target for one or more of his three-year-olds who kick things off at Royal Randwick in Sydney on Saturday.
Waller has a promising quartet engaged in Randwick Race 2 tomorrow in the $100,000 Nelune Foundation Handicap (1300m) saddling-up Merovee, D’Argento, Paret and Al Mah Haha in the seven-starter field.
The master trainer of Winx fame is hoping to see nice things early from the crew who could also emerge as genuine hopes for the Group 1 $1 million Randwick Guineas (1600m) the weekend after the Australian Guineas.
“I couldn’t split them at the moment but I would expect at least one of them to be a Group 1 performer,” Waller told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“These horses are horses on the way up, and I like to get in early to give them a bit of confidence and fitness before the big boys come back.
“We will spread them out over the next couple of weeks and they will sort themselves out. It will be interesting to see which of them stands up.
“By getting them in early we can space their runs and have three or four weeks before a second-up run and I think we will see some of them in Randwick and Australian guineas third-up.”
Of the potential Group 1-bound youngsters, the bookies at Ladbrokes.com.au are tipping market mover D’Argento to continue his undefeated career with a third victory first-up.
“He has won a couple of off-season races but we didn’t press him. He is going to be given his chance to step out in distance and I think that will suit him,” Waller said.
A winner of his opening two starts last winter, the well-bred grey So You Think colt has trialled twice at Warwick Farm in January and looks ready to fire fresh.
Jockey Glyn Schofield rides Waller’s other predicted best chance in the race, Harbour Watch colt Paret whose last start was at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day when fifth to Prezado over 1000m.
“Paret looks like a miler and I like the way he is relaxing in his trials this time in,” Waller said.
The rails draw belongs to the stable’s last start Canterbury winning Al Maher colt Al Mah Haha who had the same gate one draw on January 5 for the smart 1100m win and who Waller has picked out for Saturday’s race.
“That race fitness can make a lot of difference,” Waller said.
“He is a nice colt that is improving.”
The roughie of the pack meanwhile is Merovee, a progeny of Frankel, who has Group 3 form on his record.
He raced in mid-September’s Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle for a brave second behind Astoria.
The form of that race was franked with the winner going on three runs later to finish third to Ace High in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
There is no doubt that Merovee will be a three-year-old to watch over the autumn, but first-up the markets are saying 1300m may be a bit quick for him.
“He did a good job in the spring and all he lacked was maturity,” Waller said.
“He appears to have that now in work.”
Also on the three-years-old Group 1 autumn path for Waller is untapped Savabeel colt Kaonic and his Fastnet Rock filly Unforgotten who has won three of her five career starts to date.
Kaonic sits top of the all-in Randwick Guineas 2018 betting markets along with Magic Millions 3YO Guineas winner Pierata.
To back Waller’s autumn three-year-olds at the best racing odds this weekend and over the carnival head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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