Darren Weir confirmed on Friday night that Mahuta will contest the 2016 Australian Guineas and rival trainer David Hayes believes that improves the chances of his classy filly Risque.
Mahuta was set to contest the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield on Saturday and would have started the race as an odds-on favourite, but connections opted to remove the Top Echelon colt from the race and save him for the Australian Guineas at Flemington on Saturday – much to the delight of Hayes.
Hayes told AAP that the presence of Mahuta means that leading New Zealand galloper Xtravagant will not get an easy lead in the early stages of the Australian Guineas and he is hopeful that an early speed battle will give Risque the chance to finish over the top of her rivals.
“That’s what I wanted,” Hayes said.
“He will provide a bit of speed with the New Zealand horse Xtravagant.”
Risque will go into the Australian Guineas without having had a race start since she made her Australian racing debut with a win in the Group 3 Kevin Hayes Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 13, but Hayes feels that the Darci Brahma filly has had an excellent preparation for the Group 1 event.
Hayes said that he had the option of running Risque in the Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday – a race she is comfortable she would have won comfortably – but he did not want to jeopardise her chances in the Australian Guineas.
“I just felt from next week on every race in Sydney is worth a million dollars,” Hayes said.
“Why jeopardise a back-up now for a hundred grand.
“I’ll back her up for a million but not a hundred as it could harm the million dollar races down the track.
“She would have won that and it would have been a canter.”
Risque has the chance to join Triscay (1991), Miss Finland (2007), Shamrocker (2011) and Mosheen (2012) as the only fillies to have won the Australian Guineas in the past 30 years, while Hayes is chasing his fourth victory after previously winning with King’s High (1989), Zabeel (1990) and Miss Finland.
Risque is currently available at 2016 Australian Guineas odds of $10 with Ladbrokes, while Kiwi star Xtravagant ($4) is a narrow favourite from Darren Weir-trained Palentino ($4.80), the in-form Mahuta ($7), Caulfield Guineas winner Press Statement ($7), Victoria Derby winner Tarzino ($7) and Western Australian filly Perfect Reflection ($9).