Caulfield Festival 2018
Caulfield Festival 2018: Darren Weir’s string in great shape as he prepares for a big year
The Australian horse racing season gets into full swing as we approach October with the spring bringing a number of major events, including the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and Caulfield Carnival. Bookmakers have got into the spirit of things, offering ante-post betting markets on the biggest and best races.
Saturday 13th October is a date of particular importance on the calendar as horse racing enthusiasts the world over prepare their punts in plenty of time for the off. A schedule including the Caulfield Guineas, Thousand Guineas and Caulfield Cup – three Group One races run at Caulfield Racecourse, Melbourne – there’s something for everyone. Bumper prizes attract the sports’ top names while the chunky prices ensure stakes and attendances continue to grow year-on-year.
With many traders already making their feelings clear on this year’s renewal, there’s plenty for backers to get involved in. Below you’ll find an early look at how the betting is shaping up on the three standout races of the month and the trends needed to help you bag a profit.
Source: 3AW Melbourne via Twitter
Caulfield Guineas - 100/1 winner last year
Starting with the Caulfield Guineas, this is a G1 decided over 1600 metres on the turf and is open to three-year-olds. The race can be traced back to 1881 when won by Wheater but growing popularity means it’s almost unrecognisable from the first running. Attracting major sponsors, there’s a whopping 2,000,000 Australian dollars prize to be shared out and a star-studded field are expected to stake their claim for the lion’s share.
Mighty Boss won the spectacle 12 months ago when scoring for trainer Mick Price and the ownership team of Teeley Assets and MG Price. The victor ran a big race under the guidance of jockey Michael Walker, holding off nearest rivals Kementari and 17/5 pre-race favourite Catchy who finished second and third respectively. Traders didn’t give Mighty Boss a chance going to the start but those with their money on were celebrating a stunning 100/1 SP pay-out. Will we see another big-price champion this time?
The early support has come for The Autumn Sun who has been scratched up as market leader, but the list is less than convincing at the time of asking, with a chunky 10/1 attached to the favourite. That indecision will capture the attention of value hunters who will be on the lookout for a contender from further down the list, especially after watching Mighty Boss upset the odds in dramatic fashion.
Picking through the list and it’s difficult to pass the likes of Native Soldier who is doing the rounds at 16/1 and Fundamentalist who can be backed at a jaw-dropping 25/1. Both are sure to receive their fair share of interest in the betting ring for small stakes and we expect both runners to go off at much shorter odds on October 13th.
Native Soldier represents the red-hot Darren Weir yard. The tipster team at Oddschecker recently supported Weir’s horses to great effect at Sandown and there will be plenty of shrewd heads keeping his runners close throughout the year with Native Soldier being one of them. The talented colt’s big-race form leaps off the page and he secured wins at Geelong on Boxing Day and Moonee Valley on Australia Day. It would come as no shock to see him go close again in the Caulfield Guineas.
Fundamentalist flies the flag for Team Hayes and continues to progress with the breeding, suggesting there’s plenty more to come from this sort. Odds would have you believe they are there simply to make up the numbers, but connections will rate their chances of springing a surprise.
Source: 3AW Melbourne via Twitter
Thousand Guineas - back against the favourite
Also run on Saturday 13th October, the Thousand Guineas is another of Caulfield’s jewels. A Grade One, competitors have 1600 metres mapped out in front of them from post to post, tackling the course’s distinctive left-hand turn. This contest is open to three-year-old fillies and we’ve enjoyed some fantastic champions since the first running in 1946. It's less of a prize than the Caulfield Guineas – 500,000 Australian dollars in the pot – but it takes no less winning and remains a popular leg of the weekend with owners, trainers and jockeys.
Aloisia came home ahead of a strong field in 2017 for the Oti Racing Team and trainer Ciaron Maher. Another carrying a delightful price she went off a 13/1 poke and defied the odds with jockey Luke Nolen on her back. They had enough in the tank to better runner-up Shoals and Mark Zahra, who took silver with the major places rounded up by 23/30 favourite Alizee back in third for Glyn Schofield. That's yet another example of why it pays to steer clear of the shortest prices at this festival.
The runner to carry the dreaded favourite’s curse this year is Anjana but, again, odds-makers are stuck on the fence with a 10/1 price slapped down. Oohood and Seabrook are joint-second favs at 12/1 a piece and that is a fine example of the uncertainty in the market in the early exchanges. We can’t be too harsh on traders given the competitive nature of the field at this time and it’s also no real shock to see Anjana supported.
Another out of the Darren Weir yard, this eye-catching grey is the product of Sepoy (sire) and Further (dam). Owned by Roll The Dice and The Herbie Et Al, she was a thrilling winner at Wangaratta back in May with jockey Jacob Rule steering. Doing the business at 8/1, those who followed the clues were pleased, while the name Anjana was jotted down in lots of notebooks as one to keep on the right side of going forward.
Oohood deserves her place near the top of the list after the Tony McEvoy rep put forward a strong run of form in the early exchanges of 2018. She has been knocking on the door for some time now, impressing if not winning, and found only one too good, two races on the bounce.
She ended behind Estijaab at Rosehill in the Group One Longines Golden Slipper and had El Dorado Dreaming ahead when contesting the Inglis Sires around Randwick in April.
Caulfield Stakes - impossible to ignore Weir's way
Another race you can’t sort through without having trainer Darren Weir at the forefront of your thinking. The astute horseman out of Forest Lodge added the 2017 Caulfield Stakes trophy to his cabinet when training Gailo Chop. That success come after narrowly missing out the year before when Black Heart Bart was beaten by Chris Waller’s Winx.
Gailo Chop was able to go one better for handlers 12 months ago, however, and all concerned were ecstatic to see experience shine through in the end. The victor placed third at Caulfield in the Underwood Stakes two weeks before and that served as the perfect warm-up as he jumped up two places for pilot Mark Zahra when it mattered most, beating Aidan O’Brien’s Johannes Vermeer at a useful 9/2.
Those on the second had reason to feel hard done by, especially at 30/1, but there was no doubting the class of the winner and the winning team. Jon Snow filled up the top-three that day at 15/2 and ran a fine race, doing himself credit for a share of the cheque.