Last start CS Hayes Stakes winner Grunt heads up trainer Mick Price’s three runners in the betting for the 2018 Group 1 $1m Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has Grunt as the $5.50 second favourite for the Australian Guineas behind the Darren Weir trained Cliff’s Edge who sits at the top of the market order at $4.40.
Price’s Caulfield Guineas winner Mighty Boss is marked at $13 while his stablemate Holy Snow is rated a $20 chance.
“They’re there to run well and hopefully one of them can stand up,” Price told AAP.
Grunt is the winner of three of his four race starts and came into calculations for the Australian Guineas with a win over Cliff’s Edge in the Group 3 $150,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 17.
Damien Oliver has stuck with Grunt but the three times Melbourne Cup winning jockey has a tough job ahead after the O’Reilly colt drew barrier seventeen in the original draw and will jump from the outside gate in the final sixteen horse field with only one of the two emergencies drawing inside of him.
Price said Grunt has continued to progress well since his CS Hayes Stakes win but he is a little concerned about the horror draw.
“Grunt is thriving and he’s peaking for the race,” Price said.
“Grunt is flying but needs the right ride from where he’s drawn.”
Holy Snow has also drawn awkwardly at fourteen and Michael Dee will have to produce another winning ride after steering Holt Snow to victory in the Group 2 $200,000 Hyland Race Colours Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 10.
“Holy Snow is going to need a bit of joy from that gate,” Price said.
Mighty Boss proved to be the best three year old during the 2017 Melbourne Spring Carnival with his win in the Group 1 $2m Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield but has failed to fill a place from two starts in the Autumn against the older horses at weight for age.
Mighty Boss wasn’t disgraced when beaten just under a length when a first up seventh to Hartnell in the Group 1 $500,000 Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) followed by an eighth to Brave Smash in the Group 1 $500,000 italktravel Futurity Stakes (1400m) both at Caulfield.
“I was trying to win a different Group One with him and I’ve probably spent a bit of petrol getting there,” Price said.
“I wouldn’t change it because he could have won the Orr with a bit of luck and in the Futurity he got dragged out three-wide with no cover from the 700 metres which didn’t suit.”
Mighty Boss has drawn barrier two with Michael Walker in the saddle again in the Australian Guineas.
Cliff’s Edge will have to contend with a wide barrier with John Alllen back in the saddle replacing CS Hayes Stakes jockey Brad Rawiller.