R7: Australian Guineas – 1600m 3YO SW G1 $750,000

The Track

The track is currently a Good 4 (Thursday) with warm weather forecast leading into Saturday, so the track should be a Good 3 by race time. With the rail in the TRUE position, we expect the track to play evenly.

Speed and Tactics

The early pace looks to be genuine with the Kiwi Xtravagant (3) kicking up to most likely hold the lead and control the race. Mahuta (9) has little option but to press forward and should cross comfortably and take up a position outside the lead. There’s little other obvious pressure, but both pace setters are comfortable travelling along at a genuine tempo, so that seems the most likely scenario here.

Early Pace Rating: Average

Late Pace Rating: Average to Above Average

Best Suited: Neutral. Overall talent will be the key factor.

Race Overview

Below are the ratings that recent rating that Australian Guineas winners have run to:

  • 2015 – Wandjina – 105.3
  • 2014 – Shamus Award – 102.8
  • 2013 – Ferlax – 99.5
  • 2012 – Mosheen – 105.5
  • 2011 – Shamrocker – 103
  • 2010 – Rock Classic – 103.5
  • 2009 – Heart of Dreams – 105.0
  • 2008 – Light Fantastic – 105.0

Away from Xtravagant who is an established 106 rated runner, the lead up form of this year’s competitors sits comfortably below the historical standard.  If the boom Kiwi horse brings his “A” game then it’s hard to see the others being able to match him.

If Xtravagant doesn’t run up to his best then the race is wide open. Preference is given to those horses that sit near the top of the ratings, but are showing clear signs that they can take a significant step forward in their performance.

Runner by Runner Analysis

1. Mahuta (9) $13 MKT: $9

Went to a new career peak 100 rating when winning over 1400m last start (up from 98.2). There is some concern that after a relatively easy early pace, he really walked to the line over 1400m and must go to 1600m here with potentially more genuine pace. On the flip side to that argument is the fact that last start was his first in 5 weeks so he may be fitter. His toughness and consistency is a big asset, but he seems far less likely than some of the others to run to a new peak here and that’s what will be needed to win the race, even if Xtravagent fails. With that in mind we are slightly negative on him compared to the market.

2. Tarzino (4) $7.50 MKT: $7.50

He has a peak 103.5 rating from his VRC Derby win (2500m) and on talent is clearly the second best horse in the race behind Xtravagant. His first up run over 1400m behind Mahuta was outstanding! He settled around 9 lengths off the moderate speed but unleashed a fast and sustained last 800m to be beaten only 1.4 lengths. His last 800 was 3 lengths better than any other runner in the race and the quality of his speed figures during that section were very impressive. He’ll be best suited this prep at 2000m+, but coming off that last start run up to 1600m at Flemington is an ideal scenario for him to progress his 96.5 figure to at least 100 and potentially higher. He’s a leading contender.

3. Vanburgh (1) $101 MKT: $26

Unsuited first up, but only ran to a 91 rating and his peak 98 was in a strongly run 1800m. He’ll no doubt improve on first up, but looks to need at least one more run before he’s ready to mix it at this level.

4. Ready For Victory (5) $67 MKT: $41

He had excuses last start, but only rated 95 first up and has a 3YO peak of 97.8 (when 3rd in the Caulfield Guineas behind Press Statement). He needs to go to a clear new peak to get into the race here and there aren’t any indicators to suggest he’s set to do that over 1600m in this race.

5. Xtravagant $3.20 MKT: 3.30

He’s an outstanding Kiwi galloper who is well established at the 106 rating level courtesy of two big wins… last start by 8 lengths against older horses in the NRM Sprint over 1400m and then back in November over 1600m when he won the NZ 2000 Guineas by 8.5 lengths. The quality of his speed figures both overall and sectionally were outstanding in the 2000 Guineas, something only genuine top class horses can do. He has produced 3 sub standard performances in his 8 start career so far, but they’ve all come on 6-7 rated soft tracks in NZ, so that is perhaps his weakness. Flemington will serve up his preferred Good going so the track condition is no concern. Some allowance has to be made for the fact that he has to travel from NZ, settle in and then produce his best on the track… but his overall talent combined with the prospect of controlling the race up on the lead makes him clearly the best chance in the race.

6. Bon Aurum (11) $81 MKT: $41

Both runs back this preparation have been OK, but he needs to make improvement to reach his 98 career peak from last preparation and then go higher again. There’s nothing in those two runs this preparation to suggest he’s likely to do that.

7. Sovereign Nation (8) $61 MKT: $26

Was okay last start over 1400m behind Tivaci and will be better suited over 1600m at Flemington. However he doesn’t yet appear to have the overall quality needed to win at this level and will be less than ideally suited from well back in the run.

8. Tivaci (13) $31 MKT: $15

Ran to a new career peak of 95 last start winning (on protest) over 1400m at Flemington and does look to have upside stepping up to 1600m. However we can’t see enough to suggest he can suddenly leap the 5+ points needed to get into mix as a potential winner.

9. Palentino (16) $11 MKT: $7.50

He’s a lightly raced Darren Weir galloper with plenty of upside on what he’s done so far. He ran to a 96.8 rating last start over 1400m when losing the race on protest to Tivaci, but a key feature of his run was strength over the final 200m. Tivaci clearly headed him in the straight, but Palentino fought back to gain a clear margin at the line. Darren Weir is a master of setting horses for a target and improving them with racing, so it seems highly probable that Palentino will run a clear new career peak in this race. That said, he does have to elevate his rating significantly and is likely to settle near the rear of the field from barrier 16. He’s one of the chances to be respected, but we can’t see any value in the current price.

10. River Wild (6) $26 MKT: $21

Happy to totally overlook last start after he missed the jump. Prior to that he was well established in the 97.5 to 98.5 rating range with signs that 1600m might bring a little more improvement. He can take up a position just off the pace here and with decent quality in his figures, he’s a longer priced runner that has to be respected.

11. Snoopy (14) $201 MKT $51

Was beaten 0.6L 3rd behind Mahuta over 1400m last start and that 96.5 rating seems about as good as he can go. It’s hard to imagine him to suddenly running a big new peak here, especially from a very awkward barrier draw.

12. Tulsa (15) $34 MKT: $18

** Likely to be SCR for the Randwick Guineas ** Was 3rd last start behind Tivaci / Palentino, running a solid 94 rating, below his career peak of 96.5. It’s conceivable that he could go to a new peak in this race, but he seems less likely that a few of the other to reach the 100+ rating needed to be competitive .

13. Jameka (12) $26 MKT: $17

She won the VRC Oaks (2500m) last preparation with a strong 101 rating and away from that she has a number of other performances around the 97.5 level, including first up over 1400m at Flemington. She’s drawn very awkwardly here for a handy / midfield Filly, but if she can find a spot then she’s capable of progressing from that first up figure and that puts her among a group that could run a place.

14. Perfect Reflection (2) $7.50 MKT $9

Ex WA Filly now with Darren Weir and is another that looks set to run very well in this race. Her 97.5 rating last start over 1400m at Flemington (same race as Jameka) had plenty of merit and clear signs that she’ll take a good step forward in this, especially with the Blinkers applied for the first time. She has a peak of 101 from WA when winning the G1 WFA Kingston Towns Stakes (1800m) against older horses and it’s reasonable to think she’ll run close to that level here, especially with the potential to settle around midfield from Barrier 2. Away from the favourite Xtravagant, she’s clearly one of the top chances and available at a good value price.

15. Risque (10) $26 MKT: $12

She a NZ G1 1000 Guineas Winner and had her first start in Australia over an unsuitable 1200m, yet was still able to win with a solid 94.8 rating. She’ll no doubt improve up to a Mile here, but is yet to run to the level that will be needed to figure in the finish of this, so she looks under the odds in current markets.

16. Sailing By (7) $31 MKT $34

She was good first up when just failing to run down Mahuta at the end of 1400m, clocking the 2nd best closings sectionals in the field from the 800m mark (behind Tarzino). Her 97.4 rating was a new career peak, which could mean she’s in for a stellar campaign. With the ability to take up a handy position in running, she’s a longshot that deserves plenty of respect.

Betting Strategy

There are two key runners to back here. Whatever your chosen outlay on the race stake in the follow way:

 BACK – WIN – Xtravagant – 70% of race outlay to WIN

 BACK – WIN – Perfect Reflection – 30% of race outlay to WIN

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