Trainer Mick Price has unearthed another top Australian Guineas candidate with Grunt winning the Group 3 $150,000 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington today.
Grunt scored a hat trick of wins following his maiden victory at Werribee and his last start win in a 1600m BenchMark 64 Handicap at Morphettville on December 26 and will join stablemates Holy Snow and Mighty Boss in the Group 1 $1m Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 3.
Winning jockey Damien Oliver settled Grunt ($7) in the middle of the pack from barrier ten in the capacity sixteen horse field before working his way through the field to overhaul Darren Weir trained Cliff’s Edge ($6) to record a three quarters of a lengths win.
Muraaqeb ($9), from the powerful Lindsay Park stable, made up ground late to fill third position while the $5.50 favourite Peaceful State never threatened to finish seventh.
Price has always held a high opinion of Grunt and said that the O’Reilly colt just needed plenty of time to mature and he is now peaking at the right time to be a force in the Australian Guineas.
“He best the right horse and he won the right way,” Price said.
“He is a big Flemington horse, he won the right way, a big long striding horse. 1400m not his ideal distance, a bit short for him but that is his run to get him into the Australian Guineas, Group 1.”
“He is a colt, beautiful O’Reilly colt, Good winded horse, perfectly sound and I think this will just take a little bit of freshness off of him and that is his run to get him into the Australian Guineas.”
“We have done out timing to get us into the Australian Guineas.”
Price said that if Grunt gets through the Australian Guineas he might consider taking him to Sydney for the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 7.
“I always thought he was going to be a beautiful 2000m horse, he probably is and if he lasts in a preparation sense to the AJC Derby, but he doesn’t have to,” Price said.
“He loves this place Flemington but he has to beat Holy Snow and Mighty Boss.”