Almanac Racing – Guineas glut on a great Saturday of racing

This Saturday’s clash of G1 Guineas’ at Randwick and Flemington has served to reinvigorate discussion over the ramshackle national racing calendar. Fortunately both editions promise much to fans, but the scenario is probably best avoided whereby G1 1600m 3yo blue ribands for big coin are programmed on the same day, making this weekend like a (rich) Prelim. What it does, of course, is set up expectations for the crossover clash, possibly in the 2000m Rosehill Guineas on 19 March.

A shake up is obviously needed but clubs tend to be intransigent. So, Sydney piles millions in to a usually soggy Autumn while RVL offers a competing, less lucrative alternative – not complementary. Meanwhile the Melbourne Clubs guard their Spring dates, fearful that any weaknesses will indicate vulnerabilities. Remarkably, there’s sign of movement with murmurings that the Mackinnon and Emirates might swap Spring Saturdays. Sensible and hardly radical, it at least shows that some cards are on the table.

The relatively newly-merged ATC has already made plenty of changes which are taking some getting used to. Last week’s meeting at Randwick had a distinct Warwick Farm flavour and this weekend there’s a combo Rosehill/Canterbury legacy to the black type on offer.

It’s a decade now since Randwick (SR7, 1600m, 3yo, SW, G1) appropriated the Canterbury Guineas and it has continued to throw up consistently good winners. That seems likely to continue this year with Press Statement (1) stifling betting. He does look the real deal. Stay With Me (13) the drum.

The Canterbury Stakes (SR5, 1300m, WFA, G1) has maintained its moniker and status but been relegated to earlier on the day due to a small field. But interest in this race will be high. Pace is sure to be genuine and the main chances are, fascinatingly, offering contrasting styles. Our Boy Malachi will lead them up the rise but I’m expecting First Seal (6) to finish too hard. The returns of Criterion and Kermadec are amongst a host of reasons to rewatch this race.

Slipper punters will tune in for the opening events, gender based versions with identical conditions (1200m, 2yo, SW, G2), once long-time Rosehill staples. Each of them this year provide odds-on challenges for the brave or foolhardy punter. Honesty Prevails (3) is a boom filly expected to dominate the Reisling Stakes (SR1), but money’s too hard to get to tempt me on the back of a sole run and win on a Soft7. Watch! Capitalist (1) has more impressive credentials to justify being in the red for the Todman Stakes (SR2) but the opposition is lined by picket fences. This may be, as “Gator” is apt to say, a “good form race”.

Possibly the pick of a really good day is a race which has done the rounds of the tracks, The Challenge Stakes (SR8, 1000m, WFA, G2). 10,1,3. Ball of Muscle is an old-fashioned con plonk having never missed a place, but I reckon English might be top notch (worried though the Gai seems to have a shocking strike rate).

If you’re looking for some value to get a day’s bank I’m suggesting a 7yo 1st up! Sir John Hawkwood (3) looks massive E/W overs at 14/1 in the Randwick City Stakes (SR3, 2000m, Quality, Listed).

I’ll be at my post on the Flemington Rails, hopeful that the betting is a bit more spirited than at last Saturday’s ripper Diamond Day.

The Australian Guineas is obviously the day’s feature (MR7, 1600m, 3yo, SW, G1) and punters will be forced to make up their minds about the form and hype of Kiwi favourite Xtravagant. Aotearoans are talking of a Might And Power/Sunline hybrid which, admittedly, should account for this lot. I’m naturally sceptical especially at the likely quote. So, then, whereto? I was super impressed by Risque at Caulfield, though the runner up seems to have my affliction of always finding one better. A win for her wouldn’t surprise. Other fillies, Sailing By (33/1) and Olly’s Jameka (16/1) are trifecta divvy boosters and might be worth a win/place ticket. I’m reckoning this is a result race and will be betting to get the Kiwi and the toppy beaten.

The time-honoured Frances Tressady (MR8, 1400m, F+M, SWP, G3) is the highest rated of the supports and one of my old favs, Abidewithme (6), looks the bet of the day. Carrying mine, she’ll want to be bloody good as my form is awful.

Maybe the best of the rest is the sprint (MR6, 1000m, H’cp, Listed). Kinglike’s also accepted for the hot Sydney 5 furlong so must be going alright. Happy to be on him if he runs at HQ. Otherwise probably 4 from 1 in a race with a few chances.

Over in Adelaide, there’s just a week until Morphettville hosts the Adelaide Cup on its holiday Monday. Locals there know all about rejigged calendars and might argue that it leads to instability. Next weekend has a Parks meeting on Saturday, an Oakbank prelude on Sunday and then a G2 Cup with a couple of Listed supports on the public holiday. No longer a couple of weeks’ build-up and a mighty Goodwood/Cup double-header. Messy. Nearing irrelevance? SA racegoers would be better off heading to Port Lincoln (27degree forecast) for Cup Day tomorrow (Friday). Big fields, modest quality. Good fun. P.Stokes is taking just one over (No1) for the main race (Cup, AR8, 1950m, H’cp) with D.Tourneur up. Good lead? His form last weekend, it must be noted, was alarming. After Colonel Custer winning with his first SA entry, subsequent stablemates each ran 8 of 9 and, over at Caulfield, Stokes’ credentialed runners finished 8/11, 14/16 and 16/18 with Hucklebuck especially disappointing after going to the front.

A fascinating weekend of racing ahead with even better to follow. Can’t wait, but need a winner to kick start a recovery. Help!

Good luck.





  1. Watch the replays of Xtravagant’s last start win beating open class horses including Sacred Star and Volkstok’n’barrel and in the NZ 2000 Guineas. Amazing acceleration. Never beaten on a dry track.

  2. Saw that. Happy to see it at Flemington but happy to risk against it.

  3. cowshedend says

    Thanks for the video Budge, very impressive.
    Did hear the rumblings re the Mackinnon George Adams change, already outrage from traditionalists, but agree with you Crio, no brainer since the race as not been a cup lead up for years, and make it a 2 week break from the Cox, perhaps move the Mackinnon to Stakes day and leave the Stakes making 2 terrific races on the last day, but perhaps they need MV need to poor money into their Crystal Mile, so there is 2 huge miles within a fortnight.
    Massive wrap Creativity Sat. Slipper class(sound familiar?)

  4. Familiar spruik but there was some Med money last week and it was never a hope after the jump.

  5. What was that previous spruik horse Cowshedend? Fortune Eight or something like that. Think I saw it go around as unplaced fave midweek at the provincials. You are due to be right any day now!

  6. Stop looking, I found it. Fantasy Eight. 7 of 9 at Terang last Sunday $3.50.
    I promise I’ll never mention it again!

  7. cowshedend says

    Been a lot of interest from Hong Kong in Fantasy Eight Budge, will feature prominently in menu’s around Sha Tin

  8. For picnic fan afficianados, Alexandra Cup is on Saturday.


  9. relatively big fields there Glen. You heading over the Spur?

  10. cowshedetc, Thought D.Lane might get stable elect? Katie’s preferred to the toppy?

  11. Unsure Crio, we were there in 2015. We have a few things going on, so i won’t be able to decide until Saturday morning.


  12. I’m prepared to declare Tarzino the only danger to Xtravagant. Interested in your thoughts…

  13. Interesting recipe budge, coming off the high of a 30/1 group 1 winner and straight into a fav at 2/1,sort of belies your pedigree. I’m not sure the souffle will rise.
    I’ll be backing up on Sovereign Nation (currently 40’s) and hope they run along, again unlucky behind Mahuta. notice the rail is true and I don’t think it will be any good there.
    My best at Flem is Mighty Like in the 5th. If they are coming from back in the field, Into the Mist in the 8th is very smart and the form around Miss Rose delago looks pretty good.
    Sydney is a great program but I can’t find one yet and Adelaide is OK- Battle Brewinf will win the second and Beau’s My Boy will be hard to beat in the 4th.
    Looking forward to a big day of good racing and like Crio I hope they sort out the Adelaide calendar and get things back to May, trying to cash in on all the March events doesn’t work but they appear to have an OK field for the cup.

  14. The Guineas is a great conundrum. Some, like Budge, see the fav a moral. Others, in my camp, happy to knock it ( and toppy) which creates a terrific betting challenge

  15. Xtravagant short?….indeed it is.

    Ridiculous price in quite a strong field, fair bit of depth in this field, not quite prepared to declare my tips in it just yet as haven’t done enough form on it as yet, however this Kiwi is very short. Hugged the rail and, on paper, didn’t beat much except a stayer that ran well to run 6th. I must admit, I’m not all over the G1’s in NZ but that race didn’t appear to have a field full of runners that would be competitive at G1 level here.

    I have had something on Zimbali at the $51 in BR 7.

    Good luck to all and will be checking in later for your opinions.

    Bring on the AFL season!

  16. Thought Tarzino was great value at $8 and sure to run a cracking race back at Flemington. Perfect Reflection a chance, no value Xtravagant.
    Our Boy Malachi sure to get his own way in front in Syd and will run the race on his terms….will be hard to run down.
    Good luck to all.

  17. Xtravagant ran the first 1000m 12 lengths quicker than Wandjina did in his win last year.

    First Seal and Press Statement both went down 2nd up and beaten by fitter horses?

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