Who to keep an eye on at Flemington this March
With a massive month of Group 1 racing ahead at Flemington we take a look at the horses you should keep your eye on throughout the Flemington Racing Spectacular.
Australian Guineas – Saturday 4 March 2023
The $1million Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) shapes as another highlight of the Flemington Racing Spectacular. Some valuable three-year-old colts and some exciting young fillies looking to add their name to an honour roll that includes horses such as Zabeel, Mahogany, Apache Cat and Miss Finland, just to name a few.
AUSTRALIAN GUINEAS FACTS
- Hitotsu (2022) became the first horse to win the Australian Guineas first-up from a spell.
- 8 winners of the CS Hayes Stakes (The Debonair) have gone on to win the Australian Guineas (Zabeel, Mahogany, Mouawad, Dash For Cash, Wandjina, Hey Doc, Grunt, Alligator Blood). A total of 12 Australian Guineas winners have come through the CS Hayes Stakes.
- Mahogany (1994) is the only horse to complete the Caulfield Guineas-Australian Guineas double.
- Five fillies have won the Australian Guineas, the most recent being Tasmanian filly Mystic Journey, who provided trainer Adam Trinder and jockey Anthony Darmanin with their first success at Group 1 level.
ONES TO WATCH
Jacquinot (Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr)
Four wins from six starts as a three-year-old, Jacquinot continued his great run, diving back to the inside and surging late to win the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Sandown. Stepping up to face older, more seasoned rivals last start in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m), the son of Rubick won the race on protest, defeating Gentleman Roy and Nugget. The Manfred Stakes has only produced one winner of the Australian Guineas, three-time Group 1 winning filly, Mosheen. Trainer Mick Price would become the winningest trainer of the race if Jacquinot was to salute after wins by Light Fantastic-2008, Heart Of Dreams-2009, Grunt-2018.
Elliptical (Anthony & Sam Freedman)
He comes through the most successful Australian Guineas path, winning the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington last start. The Dundeel colt came from back in the field, reeling off impressive final sectionals to score in the shadows of the post. Placed twice at Group 1 level in the spring, his run in the Caulfield Guineas was impressive, pushing Godolphin colt Golden Mile right to the line. An already valuable stud prospect, Elliptical tackles the mile for only the second time, and a Group 1 win will only enhance his value. Connections have left the option open for another shot at weight for age over the Flemington 2000 metres in the $3 million Group 1 TAB Australian Cup.
Legarto (Ken & Bev Kelso)
New Zealand-trained filly Legarto is looking to become only the second filly to win the Australian Guineas. She suffered her first defeat at her sixth start in the lucrative Karaka Million 3YO Classic at Pukekohe Park. Although arguably she should still be unbeaten, after an unlucky run in the race. Provided she travels well and settles in, she could prove very hard to hold out on the open expanses of Flemington. Legarto is to be ridden by Kiwi-born jockey Michael Dee, who had a stellar spring claiming the Group 1 Caulfield Cup and Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby. Dee famously won the Australian Guineas in 2021 aboard $301 bolter Lunar Fox.
Newmarket Handicap – Saturday 11 March 2023
Almost not a surprise to learn that legendary trainer Bart Cummings won the race a staggering eight times; this year’s edition will be the 150th running of the great sprint conducted down the famous Flemington six-furlong straight. A race won by some of the all-time great sprinters including Placid Ark, Schillaci, Takeover Target and Black Caviar.
NEWMARKET HANDICAP FACTS
- Damien Oliver and Craig Newitt each have three wins in the race, the most of any current-day jockey.
- In the last 50 years, twenty winners of the Newmarket Handicap ran in the Oakleigh Plate in the lead-up to the race. Four horses have completed the sprint double in that time (Placid Ark, Schillaci, Weekend Hussler, Lankan Rupee)
- In the last 50 years, twenty-five winners of the Newmarket Handicap ran in the Lightning Stakes in the lead up to the race. Thirteen horses have completed the sprint double in that time, with a further six running second in the Lightning Stakes before winning the Newmarket Handicap.
- Last year, Roch ‘N’ Horse became the second horse in nearly a century to win the Newmarket Handicap at her first run back from a spell, the other being Redkirk Warrior in 2017.
ONES TO WATCH
I Wish I Win (Peter G Moody)
Bearing the famous Chittick family colours of Matamata NZ stud farm, Waikato Stud, who stands his sire Savabeel, I Wish I Win was hard to miss in the Black Caviar Lightning recording the fastest sectionals of the day for the 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m. An explosive last sectional of (10.91), reduced the margin to a long neck, to lay claim as one of the horses to beat in the Newmarket Handicap. Trainer Peter G Moody ruled out a tilt at the All-Star Mile early in the preparation, electing to keep the Flemington sprints on I Wish I Win’s agenda. Moody believed the horse would be suited down the Flemington straight with his turn of foot, especially second up in the Newmarket. So far, the plan looks well on track with the gelding set to be right on the mark for the event, a race Moody has won twice before with Wanted (2010) and mighty mare Black Caviar (2011)
In Secret (James Cummings)
Looking to become the seventeenth three-year-old filly to win the time-honoured race, In Secret is coming off a successful spring campaign that featured a close second to Australian Guineas favourite Jacquinot in the Group 1 Golden Rose in Sydney, before venturing to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup Carnival and claiming the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at this same track and distance. It was a blistering win against the best three-year-olds in the land. Her first-up win in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes looks to have her in fine fettle as she takes on the older horses in open company for the first time in her short career. Trainer James Cummings is bullish about the prospect of her returning to the Flemington straight, dropping in weight and back to the scene of her most impressive career performance. She was gallant in the hotly contested Group 1 Surround Stakes at Randwick, beaten a nose and should have her in top shape heading towards Flemington.
Uncommon James (Steven O'Dea & Matt Hoysted)
Coming off a brilliant win in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Sandown, the four-year-old has always shown good ability but his rise to elite level has happened quite quickly. He has never finished worse than second in his eight-start career, victorious in six of those outings. The Queensland-based trainers brought him down for a through at the stumps last spring where he was ultra impressive, winning the Group 2 Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield. His first-up effort in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Sandown proved his class at the level, a race in which Lofty Strike broke the track record for 1100 metres. However, the finishing order was reversed last Saturday, rewarding Ben Thompson with his first Group 1 success as a jockey. They again ran blistering time covering the 1100m of the modified Sandown Lakeside layout in 1:01.57. He's risen to each challenge that has been set by the training partnership and would be one of the main hopes in the $1.5 million Group 1 Yulong Stud Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 11, should they choose to go there.
TAB Australian Cup – Saturday 25 March 2023
The mare that stands alone, three-time Melbourne Cup winner, Makybe Diva, still holds the 2000 metre track record at Flemington, a record she set in the 2005 Australian Cup before returning to Flemington in the spring to claim her third Melbourne Cup and subsequently retire a legend
AUSTRALIAN CUP FACTS
- Jockey Tom Hales holds the record for the most Australian Cup wins, winning the race eight times, from 1875 to 1890.
- Bart Cummings, the ‘Cups King’ in many respects, won the Australian Cup thirteen times in his career as a trainer, Leilani-1975, Ming Dynasty-1978 & 1980, Hyperno-1981, Let’s Elope-1992 and Saintly-1996 among the thirteen.
- Three-year-olds have started in the race 35 times when the race has been run at weight-for-age, accounting for three wins (Super Cool-2013, Saintly-1996 and Dulcify-1978) and ten placings.
- Twenty-one mares have won the race including Makybe Diva (2005), Dane Ripper (1998), Let’s Elope (1992) and Leilani (1975)
- Six horses have completed the Blamey Stakes-Australian Cup double with the last horse to do it, Durbridge back in 1994.
ONES TO WATCH
Gold Trip (Ciaron Maher & David Eustace)
The 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup winner returned from his amazing spring campaign with an electric run in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Sandown. He produced a last 600m of 34.29 seconds and had the fastest last 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m of the race. The race was run at a hot tempo after the saddle slipped on Deny Knowledge. Gold Trip produced a long, sustained sprint from well back in the field, straightening 10-12 lengths off the lead. Stablemate of Gold Trip, Steinem claimed the brave Keats at the 150m to claim victory but the royal blue colours of Australian Bloodstock caught the eye as Gold Trip took considerable ground off the winner in the last 100 metres.
Alenquer (Michael Moroney)
The French-bred stallion comes across from Europe with an impressive record. He joins the Flemington stable of Michael Moroney, who is well-versed in taking on Australia’s best middle-distance and staying contests. Alenquer has contested some of Europe’s biggest races, winning the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes (2406m) for three-year-old colts and geldings at the famous Royal Ascot meeting, placing in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at York (2063m) behind Mishriff before a tilt at the historic Group 1 Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp in Paris, where he finished ninth. Next racing season saw him travel to Ireland to land his first Group 1 success, the Tattersalls Gold Cup (2112m) at The Curragh, defeating 2021 WS Cox Plate winner State Of Rest, before returning to Paris to again run ninth in the Group 1 Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe (2400m) behind Sir Mark Prescott-trained mare, Alpinista. He could be anything this horse.
Emissary (Michael Moroney)
The 2022 Lexus Melbourne Cup was won in brilliant fashion by the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace trained entire, Gold Trip. But many could not help but be impressed by the 2022 Geelong Cup winner and Melbourne Cup second placegetter, Emissary. Cup-winning trainer Michael Moroney looks to have found another exciting stayer and could aim his sights at some more middle-distance weight for age Group 1s before another tilt at ‘the race that stops a nation’™. He has shown he’s not just an out and out stayer with a close finish behind Cascadian in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield last year. First up in the spring he came from back in the field to claim the Heatherlie Handicap (1700m). On Saturday, his run in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Sandown looks as though it will only benefit the son of Kingman, after a solid performance beaten only 2.25 lengths by Steinem.
Hezashocka (Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr)
Former New Zealander Hezashocka took a preparation to settle into his new surroundings under the care of training partnership Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr. His subsequent preparations saw him work through the grades all the way to Group 1 level, finishing out of the money only once in nine starts and capping it all off with a half-length defeat to Zaaki in a star-studded Group 1 TAB Champions Stakes (2000m). He could be ready to take the next step and claim a big Group 1, franking the decision for OTI Racing and the ownership group to purchase him from New Zealand.
Don't miss out on your chance to witness Australia's best three-year-olds at Flemington on Saturday 4 March for the time-honoured Group 1 Australian Guineas. Find out more and book your tickets to Australian Guineas Day. This is one race day on the calendar that you won’t want to miss.