All the talk this week has been on the boom three-year-old Grunt who continues to rise to each test trainer Mick Price throws at him.
Today he will face another acid test pitched up against the best three-year-olds in the Group 1 $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
Unfortunately both Grunt and the tough-as-teak Cliff’s Edge have drawn on the outside of the field in the Guineas in gates 16 and 17 respectively. The barrier draw has not stopped punters from backing Grunt to stretch his unbeaten winning sequence to five straight in the Guineas. He has shortened up from $17 to $6 second-favouritism behind Cliff’s Edge at $4.60 to win in the early betting moves.
The barrier draws have opened up the Guineas quite a bit and there is good value for the Thousand Guineas winner Aloisia out from $6 to $8.50 after she fared badly at the gates in 13.
Saturday is forecast to be steamy with a top of 33C after an overnight minimum of 15C. The False Rail will at the true position and the track is rated as a Good 4 (Thursday).
QUADDIES (races 6,7,8,9)
Skinny Play: 1,4 – 2,11 – 2,3 – 1,2
Wide Play: 1,3,4,7 – 2,11,13,15 – 1,2,3,7 – 1,2,6
BEST BET: R7 – 11. GRUNT
Next Best Bet: R8 – 2. SECRET AGENDA
Best Roughie: R2 – 6. CRY IF I WANT TO
No9 VIENNESE STAR was a brilliant winner beating Krone over1000m at debut at Moonee Valley on February 2. Her weight plummets from 57kg to 54kg here and Damian Lane replaces Mark Zahra on the I Am Invincible filly. Looks a serious player in this field.
No1 OLLIVANDER has won and run second at three starts. Gest a critical gear change with a tongue tie going on for the first time. The gear change explains the last start 10th over in the Diamond Prelude (1100m) at Caulfield on February 10. The colt's prior form was top shelf.
No10 NADURI showed plenty of acceleration to pull away to an easy debut win over 1000m maiden at Warrnambool on February 7. Group 1 winning rider Regan Bayliss replaces Daniel Stackhouse on the filly who drops 2kg to 54kg here. She looks each-way value.
No2 NOMOTHAJ was an imposing winner at her debut here back in early October. The stable showed a big opinion to race her in the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast, where she ran 14th to Sunlight in the $2 million sales-race in January. The filly is back home and on her winning ground.
VALUE RUNNER: No10 NADURI
No4 FANATIC meets a field of only six runners here. Gave a good sight to work hard to the line to run fifth over 2500m at Moonee Valley on February 16. Gets a big weight drop down 3kg to 55kg today and is now primed with two runs under his belt this campaign. Was a smart winner over 2800m here last campaign.
No5 ORMITO kept on lifting right to the line when finishing a narrow third over 2500m at Moonee Valley on February 16. He looks the logical danger here with three placings from his past three starts in the city over the longer distances. Craig Williams is the new rider on 54kg.
No6 CRY IF I WANT TO (BEST ROUGHIE) was a fantastic winner over 1950m at Kilmore two starts ago before finishing a strong third over 2000m here on February 17. Mick Price has booked Dwayne Dunn again and he is on the limit on 54kg. The daughter of Street Cry has won to 2200m and would keep in mind.
No1 FOUNDRY is the glamour stayer of the race with the Group 1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick last spring amongst his credits. He is first-up from a 17 weeks spell after running third in the Bendigo Cup on November 1. He is having his first start for his new trainer and he does not appear badly weighted on 58kg.He is having his first start for his new trainer and does not appear badly weighted on 58kg
VALUE RUNNER: No6 CRY IF I WANT TO
No1 FRAGONARD is a Godolphin-trained mare who was an outstanding winner over 1200m at Moonee Valley before being spelled. She resumed from a 24-week break to a cracking fourth in a Group 3 over 1400m at Caulfield on February 10. She faces her own sex again today and deserves favouritism.
No2 HEAR THE CHANT is resuming from a 24-week spell and has a great record fresh of a win and a second at four starts. She has won down this course in the past and has talented rider Andrew Mallyon to ride at her return. She should get a nice run from gate six down the straight today.
No7 EL RADA has been a model of consistency and returns to the city with a confidence building win over 1100m at Ballarat on February 18. She was plunged into a $2.05 favourite and did the job well fighting hard before going to the wire with .75 lengths up her sleeve.
No5 ESSENCE OF TERROR is resuming from a seven-week spell and goes well fresh with a record of a win and two seconds at five starts. Drops 2.5kg to 56kg and gets top jockey Craig Williams to ride for the assault. She is a short-course specialist.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 EL RADA
No1 OREGON’S DAY hails from the red hot stables of Mick Price and is a Group 3 winner and Group 2 place-getter. Price gave her a warm up trial over 800m at Cranbourne where she ran fourth on February 19. Race rider Mark Zahra rode and she was put under no pressure to chase in the straight.
No5 HARLOW GOLD is resuming from a 20-week spell and will have a gear change with the winkers coming off for the first time. She is a dual Group 1 place-getter and on 54kg with the hot jockey Regan Bayliss to ride for Team Hayes she makes plenty of appeal fresh.
No2 DEJA BLUE found the winner too good but battled on well to run third in a Group 3 over 1200m at Hobart on February 9. She has been freshened up for this and Jye McNiel keeps the ride in a race where she is fairly drawn in eight and has a comfortable weight on 56kg against her own sex.
No8 SOHO RUBY was a strong winner over 1400m here two starts ago. She battled on steadily when finishing eighth over 1400m here last start on February 17 as a $3.60 favourite. She is back against her own sex and drops 2.5kg to the limit here on 54kg. Will have admirers.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 SOHO RUBY
No11 SEATTLE PARK scored a terrific win at Yarra Valley over 1950m last start on February 15. He jumped from 1400m at Sandown first up to achieve the feat. Punters backed him into a $2.90 favourite and got the biscuits. He drops 2.5kg today to 57.5kg with Ethan Brown retaining the ride.
No4 MR FERGUS has won at three of his past four starts. Latest he pulled away to an easy 2.25 length win over 2100m at Sandown on February 7. He drops a half-kilo today to 59.5kg and gets a new rider in Regan Bayliss. He makes his debut at Flemington today but must rank on exposed form.
No9 VUNGERS made a triumphant return to Moonee Valley to scoot away to a 3.25 length over 2040m last Friday week. He was plunged into a $3.20 favourite that night and is on the back up here. He drops a half-kilo to 58.5kg today and stronger jockey Brad Rawiller retains the mount.
No2 ALL OUT OF LOVE was lifting at the end of the race to run a strong fourth over 1600m at Caulfield on February 21. That was his second start back from a 25-week spell and he has won over this distance. Corey parish rides for Team Hayes and he is worth a peak at longer odds.
VALUE RUNNER: No11 SEATTLE PARK
No1 TSHAHITSI was tossed into the boiling water when ran first-up in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 10. Raced too keenly early and settled before battling on to run a solid 13th to Hatrnell. He won the Listed John Dillon at Caulfield at his prior start. Like here.
No4 POETIC DREAM gets an important gear change with a lugging bit going on for the first time. The Irish bred galloper is making his Australian debut for Team Hayes and there has been much hype surrounding him. He is a Group 2 Guineas winner in France and commands much respect.
No11 VIOLATE is resuming from a 16-week spell and was a brilliant winner over 2000m at Caulfield three starts ago. Has a great record fresh of a win and a third at four starts and gets top jockey Michael Walker to ride on the limit here on 54kg. Looms to be a place hope first-up.
No7 COLDSTONE hails from the astute yard of Mick Kent and has the hot apprentice Stephanie Thornton to guide. Chased hard to take the lead and hold for a smart win over 1400m here on February 17. The French gelding is racing very well and again has no weight on 54.5kg today.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 COLDSTONE
No11 GRUNT (BEST BET) looks to be a star in the making with a record of four starts for four wins. He passed his first acid test with flying colours with an outstanding win in the Group 3 Hayes (1400m) here on February 17. He was heavily backed from $9 into $7 and punters went home with full pockets. Top jockey Damien Oliver again rides for the red hot stable of Mick Price and he should continue on his merry winning way at his first try in a Group 1.
No2 CLIFF’S EDGE has been an outstanding three-year-old and will be right in the battle lines here again today.
No13 PEACEFUL STATE is an emerging three-year-old with plenty of improvement in the tank. Looms with claims.
No15 ALOISIA was the star filly of the spring in Melbourne and she will strip far fitter here second-up. Can show in the money.
VALUE RUNNER: No15 ALOISIA
No2 SECRET AGENDA (NEXT BEST BET) ran a cracking fourth to the outstanding sprinter Vega Magic at last start in the Group 1 Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville in May. The five-year-old mare is a Group 1 winner and she sprint very well fresh with a record of three wins and a second at six starts. Top jockey Damien Oliver rides for the hot trainer Mick Price and she can give weight on 60kg to the males.
No3 CRYSTAL DREAMER won two straight in the city before finishing a cracking fourth in the Adams (1000m) at Caulfield.
No8 HUSSON EAGLE has been kept fresh for this race and has no weight on 54kg and top jockey Michael Dee to guide.
No1 FELL SWOOP showed he was on key for a big effort fresh with a win over an 800m trial at Goulburn on February 12.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 HUSSON EAGLE
No6 SCARECROW had a lot to like about his strong performance to finish fifth behind boom three-year-old Grunt in the Group 3 Hayes (1400m) here on February 17. He ran only 2.35 lengths behind the winner, who is the hot-shot in today's Australian Guineas. Suited here on 55.5kg.
No2 CAO CAO was a clever winner at Caulfield two starts ago before finishing ninth to Grunt in the Hayes (1400m) here on February 17. Sped out to lead that day and had a hard task at Group 3 level. Looks more comfortable here and has hot rider Mark Zahra back on top.
No1 KENTUCKY BREEZE had a awesomely tough run when tramped five deep and did a good job to run 13th over 1400m in the Group 3 Hayes (1400m) here on February 17. That was first-up from a 14-week spell and had won impressively at his previous two starts here and at Stawell.
No11 ECLAIR SUNSHINE prepared to give him another chance on his plugging 14th in the Hayes (1400m) here on February 14. The Adelaide-trained three-year-old gets a new rider in Regan Bayliss and is dropping a kilo to the limit on 54kg here. The visors and crossover noseband go back on to help lift.
VALUE RUNNER: No11 ÉCLAIR SIUNSHINE