The Australian Guineas was first run back in 1986 and during that time the Group One feature has been taken out by some star performers. 

A set weights event run over the mile for the three year olds, it now carries a purse of $1m and this year will see a full field vie for honours. 

With an honour roll that includes the likes of Zabeel, Mahogany, Flying Spur, Apache Cat and more recently, Alligator Blood it has certainly become one of the top three year old races on the program and we’re set to see another great edition this weekend.

The Group 3 C. S Hayes is the traditional lead-up event and with a vast majority of these runners having come through that race, it has certainly been a key factor in determining the chances of several leading contenders.

We’ve run the rule over every runner in this year’s edition of the Australian Guineas and you can find our thoughts below. (Prices were current at time of publication)  

1. Riff Rocket (9)

Price: $2.50

The Victoria Derby winner returned to the races in fine form to take out the Group Three CS Hayes Stakes.

The American Pharoah gelding continued to rise to the occasion last campaign, working his way from a class 1 through to the top and his win in the Listed Super Impose, was nothing short of outstanding. 

He strips fitter for that first up run, the rise to the mile will suit and he’s three from four here at Flemington. Craig Williams stays in the saddle and he’s beautifully placed at the set weights. 

2. Veight (6)

Price: $8.00

Veight could not have been more impressive when making his debut in a Pakenham maiden.

The son of Grunt put up a six length margin on his rivals and proved he was the real deal when taking out the Group Two VRC Sires Produce Stakes at his following outing. 

He raced consistently during the Spring and at his only start over the mile, he finished runner up in the Caulfield Guineas in what was a controversial finish.

Just as he looked to be wearing down the leader, he lost his momentum as Griff shifted out but he certainly proved himself at the trip. 

He’s returned to top order this campaign, taking out the Australia Stakes and he kept working to line well in the CF Orr Stakes behind Mr Brightside. Back to his own age group and from the good draw, there’s no doubt he’ll be right there at the finish

3. King Colorado (12) 

Price: $7.00

Already a Group One winner over the mile, having saluted it the JJ Atkins during the Brisbane Winter Carnival, the son of Kingmen has been the eye catcher in both runs this campaign. 

When resuming in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes he settled at the tail after being crowded after the jump. Held up momentarily at the top of the straight he charged home late into second.

Up to 1400m last time, he got back and travelled nicely on the outside of Riff Rocket, the pair making their runs together with Riff Rocket getting the upper hand over the final part.

The rise to the mile will certainly suit this colt and Ciaron Maher has elected to apply the blinkers for the first time.

4. Apulia (15)

Price: $34.00

The Lindsay Park runner makes his return to the races.  

Sent for a well deserved break after almost causing an upset in the Victoria Derby the son of Fiorente relished the step out to 2500m and charged late to get within a nose of the heavily supported, Riff Rocket. 

He has a tendency to do a few things wrong but no doubt will continue to improve with racing.

He comes here off three solid jump outs and resumed last campaign to score over 1500m but at this level, I feel that we’ll see the best of him when he gets out over further.

5. Zipaway (10) 

Price: $23.00

The West Australian galloper resumed with a very encouraging run in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes.

Settling back second last, he just wanted to race a touch keen but when brought to the outside and asked for an effort, he let down strongly to finish third.

On that run, he’ll certainly relish getting out to this trip here and he has won at his only start over the mile. 

He’s a very honest galloper and whilst it can be hard to line up the Perth form when it comes to these Group One features in Melbourne, he did hit the line to be in a photo finish with Zaaki and Dom To Shoot in the Group One Northerly Stakes back in December.

With the run under his belt he should settle nicely and with any luck from the gate, I expect him to be very competitive. 

6. Cap Ferrat (4) 

Price: $46.00

The lone maiden runner of the field but he’s earned his place here with some solid performances against quality opposition.

He may not have broken through yet but he is a Group One placegetter, having finished the runner up in the Spring Champion Stakes before heading for a break.

Prepared by master trainer Chris Waller, the son of Snitzel kicked off his campaign in the CS Hayes Stakes a fortnight ago and there was a lot to like about the way he hit the line, posting the second fastest split over the final 200m.

He’ll be better suited out to the mile and from the good draw he’ll be able to settle closer in the run and will be doing his best work late.

7. The Pendragon (14) 

Price: $26.00

The Kiwi galloper will line up for his first start on Australian soil.

He took a few goes to break through but when returning in his three year old season as a gelding, he was able to get the job done and then went on to make it three on the trot, including the Group Two Auckland Guineas. 

Following that feature win, the son of U S Navy Flag lined up in the 3YO Karaka Millions where he finished second to hot favourite Orchestral. That was his first try over the mile so he doesn’t look out of his depth here.

Trainer Michael Moroney has given him the one jump out since arriving at Flemington and he looked sharp, winning the 1100m heat comfortably.

8. Run Harry Run (16)

Price: $61.00

The well named son of Written Tycoon didn’t have much luck on debut but bounced back to make it three on the trot in his first campaign, which finished with him taking out the Group Three Blue Sapphire Stakes

He kicked off his current preparation in the CS Hayes Stakes and found himself in a good position after jumping from the wide gate but just didn’t finish off.

Opie Bosson was onboard and said post race that the gelding didn’t feel comfortable in his action.

With the team electing to push on, he’s obviously come through the run well but he faces a tough test from the wide gate.

9. Sunsets (13) 

Price: $46.00

The Dundeel colt kicks off his campaign here and whilst he’s yet to figure in the placings in two first up appearances, he does step out at a more suitable distance this time.

He’s performed consistently through his nine start career and got the better of Riff Rocket in the Norman Robinson before a gallant effort in the Victoria Derby to finish third, beaten just over a length. 

There’s no question, he’s a quality stayer in the making but he may be tested here at Group One level over the mile.

His recent jump outs show he’s come back in great order but with the wide draw I’m happy to wait until he steps out over further.

10. Verdad (3) 

Price: $21.00

He’s yet to see the winner’s stall since scoring on debut but the son of Justify has continued to perform well at the top level. 

Another to have resumed in the CS Hayes Stakes, he was held up momentarily in the early part of the straight but found the line strongly to finish third, beaten only 1.5 lengths.

He’ll enjoy getting out to the mile and the low draw can see him settle within striking distance.

11. Snow Patrol (7) 

Price: $12.00

The Price / Kent trained gelding showed plenty of talent when saluting on debut back in August but his two subsequent runs were horrible viewing if you were on him. 

Held up with nowhere to go on both occasions, there’s no doubting his record should read better than it does.

He resumed with a brilliant performance to take out the Group Two Autumn Stakes and will have taken improvement from that run. Barrier seven should see him find cover away from the rail and he’ll be doing his best work late.

12. Southport Tycoon (4)

Price: $11.00

The Written Tycoon colt has come back in terrific order, just going down narrowly in both of his runs this campaign.

He kicked off in the Australia Stakes over 1200m and produced a brilliant turn of foot to run into second.

Last start he stepped out in the Autumn Stakes and again he was strong to the line but just got done in a bob of heads. 

He’s only had the one start over the mile, which was the Caulfield Guineas and he didn’t have the best of luck form a wide gate.

I have no doubt he’ll relish the distance here and he’s drawn to get the gun run.

13. Otago (5) 

Price: $16.00

The Ocean Park gelding tasted defeat for the first time last start in the CS Hayes Stakes but there was a lot about the way he finished off.

When asked for an effort at the top of the straight, he just took a while to get going but once he did, he really let down well. 

He’d only had the two runs prior so he’s still learning and as the least experienced runner in the race, I feel there’s plenty of improvement still to come.

This will be his first test over the mile but he’s given the impression that this is what he’s looking for and he’s drawn to get every chance.

14. Hey Fat Cat (1) 

Price: $26.00

Without a doubt one of the most interesting runners in the field is the Robbie Laing trained gelding.

Lining up for his fifth start in as many weeks, fitness certainly won’t be an issue. 

The son of Rubick didn’t show a great deal in his first preparation but resumed with a commanding seven length victory in January and has gone from strength to strength.

He hasn’t been far away at his recent outings and after finishing 3.65 lengths from Mr Brightside in the CF Orr Stakes last Saturday, he won’t be completely out of his depth here, although the distance is a query.

15. Quintessa (8) 

Price: $21.00

The star New Zealand filly takes her place here after finishing fourth at Group Two level over 1400m, a little over three weeks ago. 

Boasting a very impressive record, the Shamus Award filly has already tasted Group One success having won the Levin Classic at Trentham last month and the step back out to 1600m looks ideal.

The Te Akau racing operation has had plenty of success bringing their fillies and mares over in recent years so I certainly wouldn’t be discounting her here.

16. Vieste (17)

Price: $201

The first of two fillies from the Ben Smith stable to be accepted here.

The daughter of Maurice recorded her maiden win back in September over 1850m at Newcastle.

Two starts later she made the trip to Flemington to contest the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes but was well beaten.

She resumed with a nice effort in a Benchmark 64 at Canterbury and has since won a 1000m jump out at Flemington but I think she’ll be tested here and her starting price is fair.

17. Mah Ali (11) 

Price: $151

At this stage the daughter of More Than Ready is the lone emergency and will need something to come out to gain a start.

She has contested stakes races on a handful of occasions but has yet to figure in the finish.

She won a 1500m maiden at Newcastle last campaign and beat home her stablemate at Canterbury when resuming.

Whilst she looks to have come back in good order, I can’t see her testing these.

My Selections:

1 – 1 Riff Rocket

2 – 3 King Colorado

11 – Snow Patrol

10 – Verdad