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Ad Beau Mertens returns to the mounting yard on Otago (NZ) after winning the Drake International Maiden Plate at Bendigo in December. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

Guineas goal for Otago

12 January 2024 Written by Racing & Sports

Otago could announce himself as a possible Howden Australian Guineas contender with victory at Flemington on Saturday.

Mick Price knows exactly what horse is takes to win the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) and is hopeful that Otago can win on Saturday and put his hand up as a possible contender.

Price, who now trains in partnership with Michael Kent Jnr, has won the three-year-old feature three times with Light Fantastic in 2008, Heart Of Dreams in 2009 and Grunt in 2018 and says Saturday's benchmark 70 over 1400m looks a nice test.

"It could be him if he's to train on, he's a talented gelding, three-and-a-half weeks between runs because I wanted to avoid the second up syndrome which was going to be thirteen days so I'm hoping that works but it should work with a low speed and a low gate," Price said.

Otago won impressively by 2.3 lengths on debut in a Bendigo maiden and the form out of that race has been excellent with placegetters Sparkling and The Autumn Belle both winning convincingly at their next outing.

With the Australian Guineas taking place on March 2nd at Flemington, Price is hoping Otago, who is an even money chance in early markets, can win on Saturday and allow the stable to develop a path to the Guineas with the progressive gelding.

"He's a talented horse, albeit that he's learning.

I think he's going to be a typical Kiwi, developing as he gets on, he should run really well. If he does win, I would think with two wins it will allow me to give him a breather and try and get him into the Australian Guineas," Price said.

Beau Mertens rode Otago on debut and will keep the ride on Saturday, jumping from barrier four.