Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Caulfield horseman Mick Price is chasing a third win in the 2018 Australian Guineas next month and saddles-up three potential runners in the traditional lead-up this weekend.
The Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m) runs at Flemington Racecourse on March 3 and this Saturday a host of mile-bound three-year-olds will face off in the Group 3 $150,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) on Black Caviar Lightning Day.
The CS Hayes Stakes has produced the past three Australian Guineas winners with both Wandjina (2015) and Hey Doc (2017) doing the double, while Palentino survived a protest to win the Group 1 in 2016 after being first past the post in the Group 3 before being relegated to second.
Price meanwhile prepared back-to-back Australian Guineas champions with Light Fantastic and Heart Of Dreams in 2008-09.
His chances of adding a third trophy to the cabinet this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival could be boosted on the weekend with the stable likely to accept for all three CS Hayes Stakes nominees: Cao Cao, Grunt and I Have Arrived.
The best fancied of the trio in pre-field CS Hayes Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is the consistent O’Reilly colt Grunt who is after a third career win from four starts.
He was last seen making a mess of his rivals at Morphettville on Boxing Day winning a mile race for three-year-olds by over three lengths as the odds-on favourite carrying 59.5kg.
A subsequent third in a Geelong trial over 1000m on January 29 and the drop right back to 55kg at set weights plus penalties make Grunt a definite danger off the freshen-up.
Price however believes punters will see the best of Grunt as he stretches out over further with potential Sydney targets later in the autumn being the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m).
“Grunt is a good horse and he’ll be a good Flemington horse but you’ll see him go a lot better in the Australian Guineas over a mile and even better over 2000m,” Price told Racing Victoria.
“I really like the horse but I don’t think 1400m is ideal for him, so I guess we’ll see him balance up in the back half and with a bit of room he can run on.
“This is his run to get him into the Australian Guineas and then he’s hopefully off to Sydney because I’m hoping he’ll be a Derby horse, I’m just not sure whether he’s mature enough yet.”
The youngster is also being kept relatively safe in all-in Australian Guineas betting sitting at $15 to win in markets led by the filly Aloisia and the Darren Weir-trained Cliff’s Edge at $5.50 each.
Cliff’s Edge is also set to run in the CS Hayes Stakes field on the weekend giving Price’s runners something to beat.
Cao Cao is hot on his stablemates heels to take out this weekend’s lead-up at $11, while the outsider from the team is $51 roughie hope I Have Arrived.
Scratched from a race last weekend in favour of this, Fastnet Rock gelding Cao Cao was last seen winning a 1400m Caulfield race on January 27 by one and a half lengths.
Saturday sees him rise in class having his 10th career run and first Group test since the 10th to Catchy as a roughie hope in last autumn’s Group 1 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m).
I Have Arrived faces the toughest test at his third start, the Savabeel colt unraced in the city.
Price’s Australian Guineas contingent also includes last Saturday’s Group 2 Autumn Stakes winner Holy Snow and the spring’s Caulfield Guineas winner Mighty Boss who pay $11 and $7.50 respectively.
To back the 2018 Australian Guineas-bound horses prepared by Price at the right odds this season, visit Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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