Trainer Mick Price has bolstered his chances of winning a third Australian Guineas after promising colt Grunt confirmed his credentials in a traditional lead-up race at Flemington.
Lightly raced Grunt, ridden by Damien Oliver, took his record to three wins from four starts when he edged past well-performed colt and Australian Guineas favourite Cliff’s Edge to take out Saturday’s Group Three C S Hayes Stakes (1400m).
“He beat the right horse and he won the right way,” Price said.
“The 1400 metres is not his ideal distance, it’s a bit short for him, but that’s his run to get him into the Australian Guineas.
“The Guineas is a Group One and he’s a beautiful O’Reilly colt. He’s a good-winded horse, perfectly sound, and I think that will take a bit of freshness out of him.”
Grunt was wound in from $15 to $6 for the Australian Guineas (1600m) in two weeks after the win, with Price also aiming Caulfield Guineas-winning colt Mighty Boss and last week’s winner Holy Snow at the race.
“It’s a value race for them as colts,” Price said.
“But he does have to beat Holy Snow and Mighty Boss.”
Price has won the Australian Guineas with Light Fantastic (2008) and Heart Of Dreams (2009).
The Darren Weir-trained Cliff’s Edge moved from $7 to $4.60 favourite for the Guineas after his tough performance for second after being three-wide without cover.
“He was outstanding,” Cliff’s Edge’s jockey Brad Rawiller said.
Grunt ($7) tracked Cliff’s Edge ($6) in the run and got home by three-quarters of a length with Muraaqeb ($9) another length away third.