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The Melbourne Mail: Flemington - 2nd March 2024

3 minute read

Australian Guineas Day kicks off a massive March in Melbourne.

RIFF ROCKET winning the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington in Australia.
RIFF ROCKET winning the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington in Australia. Picture: Racing Photos


The three-year-old output to this point in the season has been poor. Over the past 20 years the three-year-olds have returned an average of 5.5 wins at the top level against the older horses. On that score, this year's crop are yet to leave the starting gates.

In the Lightning and Oakleigh Plate they didn't just miss, they missed big, and it is hard not to come to the conclusion that the classic generation's sprinters are a poor set. But there are some flickers of light amongst the milers. The Australian Guineas, and next week's Randwick Guineas, provide the platform for those horses to set themselves on a redemption mission with the top end of both races looking up to standard or at least close.

Riff Rocket is the star turn in the Australian Guineas and he looks a good favourite. Not good enough to be put up here as a selection at early quotes but he has a great profile for the race and his good chance is a clear one.

There are lots of little angles through the race, with formlines from as far and wide as Auckland and Perth, but ultimately the race is passed over for the purposes of these pages.

It is the meat in a bet sandwich for the Melbourne Mail. The Inglis Sprint which precedes it is where we find our bet of the day, with Estriella fancied to follow up her dominant first-up display. 

That first up rating has her ahead of the local form with Caballus the obvious danger down from Sydney where he beat last week's Hobartville 1-2 last time. 

That will appeal to plenty, as will the back that Caballus got the better of Estriella at Randwick back in July last year. But the betting had been heavily in favour of the filly that day and she was again well fancied in the Silver Shadow when she narrowly missed. The clues were there and first up we saw the performance to back them up. Where there is smoke there is so often fire.

The fresh performance was on that said she was ready to deliver on promise now and if she can go on with that then Caballus will find her nowhere near so easy to pick off as she was back in July.

On the other side of the Guineas comes the Blamey, a good race deep with angles. 

One angle, and it is a compelling one, is that Atishu is the best horse. Another is that Makram beat a promising one fair and he beat him square (despite some dissent) first up and is better suited (based on patterns from the past) this time. Carini warmed up nicely behind him and one in this spot back in the spring. Another angle. But the one we are going to play is that Muramasa, a horse that came a long way in the spring (won a Coongy no less), has more to offer still and is undersold at good double figure prices. 

Muramasa showed glimpses of talent from day one but a tie back and the cruelest cut of all gave him the body and mind he needed to turn talent into trophies and that he started by winning fresh over a mile at Flemington hardly reads poorly for his chances here. 



Bet Of The Day: #8 Estriella @ $4.20

Each Way Play: Race 9 #4 Muramasa @ $15.00 


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