2012 Caulfield Guineas – All Too Hard: Live updates, blog
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Pierro has been retired from racing. AAP Image/Paul Miller
With three Group Ones, two Group Twos and a Group Three on the card, Caulfield Guineas Day is one of the classic days of the Australian turf. Join us for live updates throughout the afternoon as we build up to the Guineas at 4.10pm AEDT.
The $1m Caulfield Guineas (1600m, Group One, three-year olds) is a race steeped in history. The colts that finish in the placings are destined for lucrative stud careers and the race often produces a future champion.
So You Think, Weekend Hussler, Apache Cat, Lonhro, Octagonal and Mohogany have progressed from the Guineas to outstanding racing careers in the last 20 years.
And as I wrote on Thursday, the Guineas can throw up a fantastic battle. In my opinion, it is the most important three-year old race in the Southern Hemisphere.
The favourite for the Guineas is the undefeated Pierro who is chasing his ninth victory in a perfect career.
With victory the son of Lonhro will become only the second two-year old Triple Crown winner to claim the Caulfield Guineas.
If Pierro wins today, you could argue he is the most accomplished three-year old colt at this point of the Australian racing season in history.
The expectation is a Pierro victory. It’s hard to see him getting beaten. He could be the best horse in the country. He should destroy horses in his own age group.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Sydney colt will progress from the Guineas to the Cox Plate (2040m, Group One, weight-for-age) at Moonee Valley in a fortnight, in which he is currently a commanding favourite.
The main danger to Pierro is Golden Rose (1400m, Group One, three-year olds) victor Epaulette. Epaulette is the horse that has come closest to defeating Pierro and has won his last two starts – including his latest victory over 1400m at Caulfield in the Guineas Prelude (Group Three, three-year olds).
Epaulette looked set to beat Pierro in the Todman Slipper Trial (1200m, Group Two, two-year olds) in March after racing clear of the Waterhouse colt at the top of the home straight but Pierro produced a brilliant fightback to claim a narrow victory.
Stepping up to the mile for the first time, Epaulette will be tested by the distance. He looked tired at the end of the Prelude when unconvincingly clinging on to beat Let Go Lenni, who is also engaged here.
Awesome Bro is outside chance in the Guineas after an eye-catching third in the Prelude and could be the obvious second selection. The step-up to 1600m should suit.
The best roughie in the race, at 100/1, is clearly Carringbush Jack who was easily the second-best performance when runner-up Pierro’s dominant Stutt Stakes (1600m, Group Two, three-year olds) victory at Moonee Valley, 15 days ago.
That Stutt form mightn’t be as bad as what some people would have you believe. Carringbush Jack is the best 100/1 pop I’ve seen for a while. In saying that, I can’t see him winning. He can, however, run second.
The x-factor in the Guineas is All Too Hard. The half-brother to Black Caviar hasn’t lost in two Melbourne starts and will appreciate racing in the left handed direction.
In his latest start, the hulking chestnut was fourth against older horses in the Group One George Main (1600m, weight-for-age) at Randwick three-weeks ago.
All Too Hard’s autumn form is good enough to figure in this race. As far as I’m concerned, he is the only horse that can beat Pierro but I can’t be sure he’s going to figure.
In the Caulfield Stakes (2000m, Group One, weight-for-age, 2.50pm AEDT) Sincero and Ocean Park will fine tune their Cox Plate preparations.
Sincero was awesome in the Memsie (1400m, Group Two, weight-for-age) on the first day of spring but has always struggled at the mile and a quarter.
Four-year old Ocean Park has improved significantly this season. He backed up a spectacular first-up performance in New Zealand with a similarly brilliant victory in the Underwood (1800m, Group One, weight-for-age) three weeks ago at this track and appears a winning Cox Plate chance. He needs to win this race.
Perhaps the best roughie for trifecta players is Vatuvei, who was an eye-catching third in the Golden Nugget (1600m, handicap) at Ballarat last time. But he is also entered at Cranbourne on Sunday and may not take his place in the field today.
The winner of the VRC St Leger (2800m, Listed, three-year olds) last season, Vatuvei could be an outside local chance in a Melbourne Cup on a heavy track (if he snuck into the field). If that’s the case, he’d want be running on strongly here.
In the Toorak Handicap (1600m, Group One, 3.30pm AEDT) More Joyous will carry a staggering 60kgs against the boys. The Cox Plate fancy will conceding as much as eight kilos to some of her male rivals but appears in better shape than ever.
Reigning Toorak winner King Mufhasa must carry 1.5kgs more than the 58 he lugged last year but comes from across the Tasman in winning form, while Glass Harmonium was very strong when returning from a spell in the Clarke (1400m, Group One, handicap) 13 days ago.
The 2011 Mackinnon (2000m, Group One, weight-for-age) winner seems well weighted with 56.5.
Promising gallopes Solzhenitsyn (52kgs) and Tokugawa (52kgs) are well weighted to cause an upset.
Some of the other highlights include the Herbert Power (2400m, Group Two, handicap, 4:50pm AEDT) where Caulfield Cup (2400m, Group One) aspirants will be hoping to sneak into next week’s $2.5m handicap with victory.
International raider Gatewood comes from England for John Gosden and is high up in my Cup calculations, while Excluded, Mr O’Ceirin and Bianmick must win if their fruitful campaigns are to allow them a shot at the first major the season.
Exceptionally, who was scratched last week, will be looking to continue her path towards a possible Melbourne Cup berth also.
The day’s other highlight is the Schillaci (1000m, Group Two, weight-for-age, 2.15pm AEDT) over the short-course. The race, won by Black Caviar last year pits Australia’s best second-tier sprinters against each other.
Buffering is the best horse in the country yet to win a Group One but will need to overcome the challenge of rising star Pampelonne if he is to claim successive Group Two victories this campaign.