Damien Oliver looks well poised to claim his sixth Thousand Guineas victory when legged aboard the underrated Afleet Esprit this Saturday. Although boasting four wins from six starts, the Hayes/Dabernig trained galloper has only started favourite once and despite winning her last three in a row, including the traditional lead-up race the G2 Guineas Prelude a fortnight ago, she’s again been nudged out of favouritism in early markets by Go Indy Go ($4.60). Oliver has partnered Afleet Esprit ($5.00) in each of her last three wins and as she they did in the Guineas Prelude, they pair will be jumping from the inside gate. Bring Me The Maid’s unexpected defeat as the 6/4 favourite in the Guineas Prelude as seen her drift out to a $5.00 chance in early markets whilst Lumosty ($5.00), the only other runners under $11.00, will be out to make amends for her connections who ran second in this race with Mosheen behind Atlantic Jewel.
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1. BRING ME THE MAID – L Nolen (4)
After winning the Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) first up as expected, the Sebring filly was installed the 5/2 favourite for the G1 Golden Rose (1400m) two starts back. She had no luck obtaining a clear run in the straight and should’ve finished much closer than the 3.5 lengths (eighth) she did behind Hallowed Crown. Punters believed she’d bounce right back to the winner’s stall in the G2 Guineas Prelude where again she started favourite (6/4) but from the tail of the field, she never raise their hopes, finishing a disappointing seventh of nine, 3.9 lengths behind Afleet Esprit. Expected to see a lot more from her last start but her overall record earns her forgiveness and she should secure a lovely run from an inside draw. Blinkers going on.
2. GO INDY GO – S Arnold (6)
After rounding out her initial prep with victory in the G1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick, her second win from only four starts, the Bernardini filly’s return to racing was highly anticipated. However she drifted from 8/1 to 12/1 in the G2 Danehill Stakes and dropped out to run a long last, over twenty-five lengths from the winner Rich Enuff. Her next and only start since was in the G2 Guineas Prelude where from last, she displayed the finishing effort that is expected of her, circling the field and closing strongly to run third (1 lengths) behind Afleet Esprit. Much better last start and the mile is ideal.
3. AFLEET ESPRIT – D Oliver (1)
The Bel Esprit filly made it three in a row with another professional effort, winning the G2 Guineas Prelude by half a length from Amicus. Like she has done again here, she draw the inside gate in the Prelude, took up a nice spot behind the leaders and got the split at precisely the right time. It all panned out perfectly for her last start, as it may do again.
4. SABATINI – J McDonald (2)
Closed steadily at her first run in a month when third (2.9 lengths) to Afleet Esprit in the Listed Cap D’Antibes (1100m) before appearing to have her chance in the G2 Guineas Prelude when fifth (1.7 lengths) behind the same horse again. Will be giving Afleet Esprit, and most others, a head-start again as they turn for home and it’s hard to see her turning the tables.
5. AMICUS – J Bowman (9)
Chris Waller’s representative has had her first three starts well spaces thus far this prep, the most recent of which was a good on-pace second to Afleet Esprit in the G2 Guineas Prelude (1400m) a fortnight ago. That effort will cap her off nicely for this race and she’ll be much better for having had a good look at the Caulfield track. The well-bred daughter of Fastnet Rock has drawn a little awkwardly here in gate nine and will need to find a spot early to ensure there’s enough left in the tank for the last furlong but is capable of running a bold race at odds.
6. LUMOSTY – C Williams (7)
Robert Smerdon’s filly ran home strongly in each of her first two starts earlier this year, finishing second to Eloping and third to Earthquake in the Blue Diamond Preview and Prelude respectively. She returned from a good break with a slashing nose second to Afleet Esprit – who was fourth start into her prep, in the Listed Cap D’Antibes before being taken to Sale for a soft kill and her maiden victory, winning as she pleased by nine lengths. Should be able to stalk the speed from her draw, has performed very well previously at this track and rates one of the best chances in the race.
7. TRAVESTON GIRL – D Browne (11)
Queensland filly from the Tony Gollan stable who despite missing a place in the Cap D’Antibes (1100m) as the 9/4 favourite first up, still produced a good effort in running fourth. She drew close to the fence that day (2) and as they set up the Flemington straight, she found herself closer to the rails than what was ideal. She fought on strongly from on pace position to finish 3.7 lengths behind Afleet Esprit and Lumosty, both of whom came from the tail of the field and down the centre of the track. She drew gate 2 again in her only run since, the G2 Guineas Prelude, leading the field from the jump but just failed to see out the challengers late, running fourth (1.3 lengths) again. Will need to commit from a wide gate if she’s to take up a forward spot again in the run and that may leave her a little vulnerable late over the mile.
8. TAHNI DANCER – N Hall (5)
Good effort first up in a 3yo plate after coming from last and running wide on the turn to register a third behind Afleet Esprit at Moonee Valley before landing her maiden win at Seymour three weeks later. The daughter of Group 3 winning mare Tahni Girl then caught the eye finishing from well back in the field to run second to Eloping, who dominated from the front, in the G3 Champagne Stakes (1200m). Jump to a mile is interesting may be able to secure a nice run from gate five for Hall and at $15.00, could be the value runner of the race.
9. PICKIN’ TIME – G Boss (8)
Good effort from a wide gate when second (2.3 lengths) to impressive winner Thinking Of You (ran third since to First Seal in G1 Flight Stake) in a 1400m fillies race two starts ago, backing that effort up with a sixth (2.1 lengths) to Afleet Esprit in the G2 Guineas Prelude. Only held her spot last time out and needed to see her hitting the line in a stronger manner to be considered a hope here. Has started favourite four of her five starts but is still searching for her maiden win.
10. HIGH ABOVE – M Zahra (10)
Relished the heavy conditions to easily win a Warwick Farm maiden (1400m) at her second start before, despite a significant jump in grade, starting a well supported 15/4 chance in the G3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle. From the second to widest gate in a field of ten, the Anthony Cummings trained galloper pushed forward to sit outside of the leader but was comfortable accounted for in the straight, running fifth (2.4 lengths) behind the unbeaten Sweynesse. A return to fillies a plus but the wide gate is not and she’ll have her work cut out for her jumping from there at this level.
11. GO JENNO – B Rawiller (3)
The O’Reilly filly from the Weir camp has finished among or just behind the place-getters, in each of her three starts since making her debut back early last month. Each of those races however have been in country Maiden races and she appears to be shooting too high here.
Pace should come from Traveston Girl, High Above and Amicus; all draw out in the second half of the field, with leading chances Bring Me The Maid and Afleet Esprit, both drawn closer to the fence, pushing forward for a nice trail. Forgiving Bring Me The Maid for her unexpected effort last start and her form reads very well for this. The form out of the Golden Rose has stood up well and she can bounce back here. Lumosty has had an unusual prep for this race but so have had a few of the recent winners. She’ll settle midfield in the running line and should get last shot at them. Afleet Espirit hasn’t put a foot wrong and keeps meeting the challengers asked of her.
Best value in the race – Amicus and Tahni Dancer
- BRING ME THE MAID
- GO INDY GO
- AFLEET ESPRIT