Australia's Caulfield Guineas Day Handicapping
Betting the Caulfield, Australia card that includes four group-one races
by Alastair Bull
The card includes four group one races – the Caulfield Stakes, Caulfield Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, and Toorak Handicap – as well as the important prelude to the big cup races, the Herbert Power Handicap.
The 2,000-meter (about 1 ¼ miles) Caulfield Stakes is usually a top-quality prelude to the Cox Plate, run two weeks later. But with Winx not running in the Caulfield Stakes, and with her presence likely to scare many runners away from the Cox Plate, it’s a better guide this year to the $A3 million Caulfield Cup (G1) over 2,400 meters (about 1 ½ miles) Oct. 21.
Favorite for the Caulfield Stakes – and the Caulfield Cup – is the New Zealand mare Bonneval, from the stable of Murray Baker. She’s won six in a row, including two this season, the Feehan Stakes (G2) and the Underwood Stakes (G1). Joining her is stablemate Jon Snow, who like her is also Caulfield Cup bound.
Their toughest opponent is likely to be Hartnell, the horse that’s been running in Winx’s shadow for the past 18 months. There are also three Irish runners – Aidan O’Brien saddles Johannes Vermeer and Taj Mahal (renamed The Taj Mahal in Australia), and Willie Mullins is represented by Riven Light. The Irish horses should run well, though a victory would not cast a good light on the strength of the locals.
The Herbert Power Handicap (G2) has traditionally been a Caulfield Cup lead-up, but these days it’s better known as a lead-up to the two-mile Melbourne Cup Nov. 7. The field is dominated by European imports, two of which (Wall of Fire and Kidmenever) are still trained in Europe. Aloft and Foundry, from the Robert Hickmott stable, look the ones to beat.
The 1,600-meter (about one mile) Caulfield Guineas is, along with the Golden Slipper for 2-year-olds, regarded as the most important stallion-making race in Australia. However, this year’s field has such an even look about it that a filly may win for the first time since 1976.
Catchy has beaten the colts before, when winning the Blue Diamond (G1) as a 2-year-old, and the Danehill Stakes (G2) this year. She’s well backed and may be capable of winning.
The favorite is Royal Symphony, who has been a boom horse since winning his first two races. He disappointed slightly when fourth in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude, and may need a strong pace.
Prelude winner Perast returns, as does Sydney colt Kementari. It looks to be an open race, and there are probably good odds to be had.
With Catchy not running, Alizee is the warm favorite for the 1,000 Guineas after winning the Flight Stakes (G1) in Sydney. Two horses that beat Catchy in the Tranquil Star Stakes – Booker and Shoals – are the best bets to topple her.
The day’s other big race, the Toorak Handicap, is always a competitive affair. The Chris Waller-trained stablemates Egg Tart and Tom Melbourne head the market, but there should be plenty of chances.