Irish jockey John Allen and Cliff’s Edge are facing an uphill battle to keep their winning record intact after the Darren Weir trained colt drew barrier sixteen in the 2018 Group 1 $1m Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Cliff’s Edge has drawn barrier sixteen in the original draw but will move in one spot when the final field in reduced to sixteen runners at start time after one of the two emergencies drew inside of him.
Allen is the only jockey to have won on Cliff’s Edge who has saluted at five of his twelve race starts but the Irishman knows that the wide alley in the Australian Guineas could bring an end to their winning combination.
“I was disappointed naturally (with the draw) but he’s the kind of horse that it won’t be as big a disadvantage to him as it would be to other horses,” Allen told AAP.
“He’s got good tactical gate speed and there doesn’t look to be a huge amount of pace on paper.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to cross and get a soft enough run.”
Allen was aboard Cliff’s Edge when he resumed for the Autumn with a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Ladbrokes Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 3 but was on the sidelines because of a careless riding suspension when Brad Rawiller rode him into second place behind the Mick Price trained Grunt in the Group 3 $150,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 17.
“It was unfortunate I couldn’t ride him because of suspension last start but I couldn’t have been happier with his run,” Allen said.
“He was caught wide but that’s just the way the race materialised.
“He gave three-and-a-half kilos to the winner and three kilos to the third horse (Muraaqeb) and he’s going to meet them better at the weights on Saturday.
“He’s drawn a bad gate again but if he can cross and get a bit softer run hopefully he should be hard to beat.
“It’s a very good race and a very deep race but I’m happy enough to be on him and wouldn’t swap him for anything else.”
While Allen is slightly concerned about the awkward barrier, the punters don’t seem to be worried with Cliff’s Edge’s price firming in from $4.60 to $4.20, making him the favourite for the Australian Guineas at Ladbrokes.com.au.
On the second line of betting is the CS Hayes Stakes winner Grunt at $5.50 just ahead of the Thousand Guineas winner Aloisia at $7.
Grunt looked classy in winning the CS Hayes Stakes but has also drawn out wide and is likely to jump from the outside barrier for Damien Oliver while Aloisia, with Mark Zahra booked to ride, is not much better at gate thirteen.