The 2014 Australian Guineas is set to have one of the strongest fields in the recent history of the race after a number of talented three-year-olds were included in the nominations for the Group 1 event that will be held at Flemington on March 1.
Headlining the Australian Guineas nominations is Danny O’Brien-trained Shamus Award, who is aiming to become the first horse in history to win the Australian Guineas after taking out the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) the previous spring.
O’Brien confirmed yesterday that the Australian Guineas is the major autumn target for Shamus Award and said that the son of Snitzel is likely to begin his preparation in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8.
Shamus Award performed consistently during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, finishing second in the Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) and third in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m), but did not break through for a maiden race win until he took out the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 26.
Another Group 1 winner included in the 2014 Australian Guineas nominations is Robbie Laing-trained Polanski.
Polanski was the fairytale story of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival; with the Rakti colt, who was purchased for just $4000, taking out the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on November 2 after previously winning the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m) and the Group 3 Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m).
The Australian Guineas, Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) are all on the agenda for Polanski during the 2014 Autumn Racing Carnival and he is expected to return to the races over 1400 metres in February.
Darley colt Complacent finished second behind Polanski in the Group 1 Victoria Derby and he could have the opportunity to turn-the-tables on his rival after being included in the Australian Guineas nominations.
Complacent progressed from a maiden race win in Hawkesbury on September 12 to take out the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 28 and the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on October 12 before finishing second in the Victoria Derby.
Other horses that are a chance to back-up from the Victoria Derby in the Australian Guineas are: third placegetter Thunder Fantasy, the consistent Criterion, Darley-owned Tupac Amaru, Anthony Cummings-trained Drago, Sebring gelding Bring Something, David Hayes-trained Honey Steel’s Gold and San Diego.
One of the most interesting horses included in the 2014 Australian Guineas nominations is David Hayes-trained Gregers, who may be given the opportunity to join Mosheen (2012), Shamrocker (2011) and Miss Finland (2007) as the only fillies that have won the Australian Guineas in the past decade.
Gregers started her 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with two impressive wins and took out the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m), but was no match for Guelph in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) and finished her preparation with a surprise defeat to Gypsy Diamond in the Group 2 Don’t Hold Back Fillies Classic (1600m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
The Gai Waterhouse-trained duo of Aussies Love Sport and Bull Point, Golden Rose runner-up Dissident, classy Kiwi colt Cauthen and Mick Price-trained Lion Of Belfort were also included in the nominations for the Australian Guineas.