Ad Legarto (NZ) ridden by Michael Dee wins the Australian Guineas at Flemington in 2023. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos)

Stars are born in the Australian Guineas

26 February 2024 Written by VRC

The Group 1 Australian Guineas, first run in 1986, has become one of the most prestigious races on the Australian racing calendar, attracting top-quality horses from around the country.

David Hayes’ affection for the Australian Guineas runs deeper than his 2007 win in the race with Miss Finland. Hayes was foreman for his father Colin when the Victoria Racing Club inaugurated the race.

Trainer Angus Armanasco and jockey Darren Gauci combined to win the maiden running with True Version before a period when Colin Hayes dominated, coinciding with the race’s upgrade to Group 1 status. He won with Military Plume in 1987 and although Jack Denham scored with Flotilla the following year, Hayes won again in 1989 and 1990 with King's High and Zabeel respectively.

Superstar geldings Mahogany and Apache Cat have won the Australian Guineas, but the race has fulfilled the VRC’s hopes of it becoming renowned as a maker of stallions. Flying Spur, Pins, Reset, Al Maher, Dash For Cash and Delago Brom have all carved out successful careers at stud off the back of Australian Guineas success. Miss Finland became the first filly to upstage the males since Triscay in 1991. Other notable winners of the race include Shamus Award, Hey Doc, Grunt, Mystic Journey and Alligator Blood.

There have been many memorable clashes and, while it's nearly impossible to whittle the Guineas honour roll to just three stand-out winners, there were few more interesting than Zabeel (1990), Mahogany (1994) and Reset (2004).

A top-class colt, Zabeel won the Moonee Valley Stakes in the spring of 1989 and then The Debonair at Flemington in 1990, just a fortnight before the Guineas, in which he started $3.50 favourite. In this memorable run, he thrashed Ark Regal, Academien and Stylish Century by three lengths before going on to win the Alister Clark Stakes and the Craiglee Stakes in the following spring.

Zabeel is arguably one of the most influential sires in Australasian history. Some of the champions he has sired include Might And Power, Octagonal and Efficient.

Before winning the 1994 Australian Guineas, Mahogany, an incredibly versatile gelding, had won three races straight, including the 1993 AAMI Victoria Derby at Flemington. He then went on to win four of his next five, including the 1994 AJC Derby. Starting at 11-8 on in the Guineas, Mahogany stalked leader Pride Of Rancho and nailed him on the line to win in a stunning finish. The gelding is the only horse to capture the Australian Guineas/ Caulfield Guineas double.

Reset, another of Zabeel's champion offspring, had a memorable win in 2004 for two reasons. First, he was never beaten in five starts and second, he beat a champion, Starcraft, to win. Coming off an odds-on win in a minor race at Caulfield, Reset got clear at the 200 metres mark and held off Starcraft's late charge to win by a long neck in an excellent performance.

Did you know?
There have been 8 three-year-olds do the CS Hayes Stakes/Australian Guineas double:

  • Zabeel (1990)
  • Mahogany (1994)
  • Mouawad (1997)
  • Dash For Cash (2002)
  • Wandjina (2015)
  • Hey Doc (2017)
  • Grunt (2018)
  • Alligator Blood (2020)