Guelph gets last chance to return to form in Phar Lap Stakes

By: Mark Mazzaglia
March 19th, 2014

Guelph’s Sydney Autumn Carnival campaign will be finished if the Group 1 winning filly fails to perform again in the Group 2 $175,000 Cellarbrations Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.

Guelph is struggling to regain the form that saw her win the G1 Thousand Guineas, above, in the Spring.

Guelph is struggling to regain the form that saw her win the G1 Thousand Guineas, above, in the Spring. Photo by Race Horse Photos Australia.

The star of the Spring has failed as a short priced favourite at two outings this Autumn when sixth to Sweet Idea in the Group 2 $175,000 Red Lea Chickens Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 22 and then eighth to Thump in the Group 2 $175,000 Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on March 8.

Darley’s Australia’s Managing Director Henry Plumptre told The Daily Telegraph that if Guelph performs below expectation for a third time, the Exceed And Excel filly’s Autumn campaign will be finished.

“There’s no point pushing on if she can’t be competitive against her own age group in the Phar Lap,’’ Plumptre said.

Number one rider for Darley Kerrin McEvoy rode Guelph in the Surround Stakes and has been given the task again of resurrecting her reputation in the Phar Lap Stakes and said that the filly is feeling fine and the step up in distance again will be in her favour.

“Guelph has got her back to the wall,” McEvoy said.

“You have to hope she enjoys getting a little further in the trip, and nothing in her work this morning (Tuesday) suggested she’s not a happy horse.

“Her failure last start left us scratching our heads, but as Pete said, we expect a lot from these horses, and they can sometimes have an off day. Hopefully she can bounce back and show us what we know she can show us on the track this Saturday.’’

Trainer Peter Snowden is mystified as to why Guelph is under performing after winning two Group 1s in the Spring, the $400,000 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) at Randwick and the $500,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield.

“For her that wouldn’t have been too big an ask, but it was for her,” Snowden told TVN after her poor performance in the Surround Stakes.

“I can’t find a thing physically wrong with her; she had a bit of a blow, but you’d expect that.

“The racecourse vet found nothing wrong with her and I brought her home and my vet went over her and we couldn’t find anything wrong.

“You could make excuses, but a filly of that class should have run better.”

Following the Surround Stakes Snowden was forced to change Autumn Carnival plans for Guelph and after originally looking at running her against the fillies and the mares in the Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m), decided to run her against her own age in the easier Phar Lap Stakes.

Guelph has drawn barrier nine in the fourteen horse field with the in-form Melbourne filly Solicit looking the one to beat with Damian Lane from gate eight.

Solicit, who is also an acceptor at Moonee Valley on Friday night in the Listed $120,000 Schweppes Alexandra Stakes (1600m), has been very impressive at her two Autumn runs with wins in the Group 3 $150,000 The Mittys Vanity (1400m) at Flemington on February 15 and the  Group 2 $220,000 TAB Kewney Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on March 8.

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