Howden Australian Guineas Day 2024 2 Mar 2024

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The $1 million Group 1 Howden Australian Guineas (1600m) for the three-year-olds was first conducted in 1986 and has an honour roll featuring champions of the Australian turf. We take a look at the contenders for this year's edition.

History says...

Since the Australian Guineas was first run at Flemington in 1986, eight horses have won the CS Hayes Stakes (The Debonair) leading into the Guineas. They are Zabeel, Mahogany, Mouawad, Dash For Cash, Wandjina, Hey Doc, Grunt and Alligator Blood.

Riff Rocket will be looking to become the first horse since Mahogany, and only the fourth horse in history, to win the Australian Guineas after winning the VRC Derby in the spring (joining Hitotsu 2022, Mahogany 1994 and King's High 1989). Favourites have only won three of the last fifteen with Lunar Fox saluting in 2021 with a starting price of $301.

Fillies have won six of the 38 runnings of the race with the Jack Denham-trained Triscay being the first back in 1991 and superstar New Zealand filly Legarto being the most recent, bursting through late to claim victory.

While Damien Oliver has ridden the most Guineas winners with three, the training honours are shared amongst Colin HayesLee Freedman and Mick Price with three each.


Prizemoney: $1,000,000 - Group 1 - 3YO Set Weights

Riff Rocket


3YO Bay Gelding

Sire: American Pharoah (USA)

Dam: Missile Coda (Smart Missile)

Career: 8:5-2-0

Prizemoney: $1,689,125

Flemington highlights: 1st  2023 VRC Derby, 2024 Colin Hayes Stakes, 2023 Super Impose Stakes

Riff Rocket has a love affair with the Flemington track having had three starts here for three wins. His only loss from his past four starts was when he ventured to Caulfield where he ran second. He produced an extraordinary first-up win when he won C.S. Hayes Stakes bursting home over the last 200m to win a fast time. After the race Waller’s assistant trainer Charlie Duckworth suggested that although Riff Rocket had won the VRC Derby, he wasn’t necessarily a stayer. He has been following in the footsteps of star galloper Mahogany who won the 1993 VRC Derby and followed that with the C.S. Hayes Stakes and the Australian Guineas the following year.

King Colorado


3YO Bay Colt

Sire: Kingman (GB)

Dam: More Aspen (USA) (More Than Ready (USA))

Career: 9:2-2-0

Prizemoney: $846,850

Flemington highlights: 2nd 2024 CS Hayes Stakes

Brilliant colt who came from well back to finish second to Riff Rocket in the C.S. Hayes Stakes. On face value he was beaten on his merits by Riff Rocket but he had covered more ground than Riff Rocket. There was only .75 lengths between them and King Colorado would be suited by 1600m. Ciaron Maher has given him two runs before this race compared to Riff Rocket who will be second-up in it. In last year’s Caulfield Guineas he covered ground and finished a creditable fourth.




3YO Bay Colt

Sire: Grunt (NZ)

Dam: Neena Rock (Fastnet Rock)

Career: 9:4-1-0

Prizemoney: $1,248,740

Flemington highlights: 1st 2023 VRC Sires Produce Stakes

There’s little doubt he’s one of the best gallopers in his age group as he demonstrated with his second in last year’s Caulfield Guineas. His trainer Tony McEvoy believes he has returned to racing as a better horse this campaign. His two runs this time which produced a win in the Group 2 Australia Stakes at The Valley and a fourth behind Mr Brightside in the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes is evidence of that. McEvoy highlighted that Veight’s finish behind Mr Brightside was the best run of his career thus far. He is looking forward to him returning to compete within his own age group.



3YO Bay Gelding

Sire: Justify (USA)

Dam: Whistle Baby (Magnus)

Career: 6:1-2-1

Prizemoney: $279,625

Flemington highlights: 5th 2023 VRC Derby, 3rd 2024 CS Hayes

After winning his maiden at his debut at Sale, Robbie Griffiths and Matt De Kock have thrown Verdad into the deep end. Although he hasn’t won, he’s raced well at each start that included two Group 2 seconds at The Valley last spring, an unlucky sixth in the Caulfield Guineas and a fifth in the VRC Derby. He resumed from a spell with another great run when he finished third in the C.S. Hayes Stakes, held up at the 300m mark when the quinella of Riff Rocket and King Colorado had begun their sprint.

Southport Tycoon


3YO Chestnut Colt

Sire: Written Tycoon

Dam: Ready to Rule (USA) (More Than Ready (USA))

Prizemoney: $250,250

Career: 6:2-3-0

Flemington highlights: Yet to start.

Gifted three-year-old colt who doesn’t know how to run a bad race. Two runs this time have produced a second to Veight in the Group 2 Australia Stakes at The Valley and then second again in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes at Caulfield where he was run down late by another Australian Guineas chance in Snow Patrol. He endured a torrid run when he finished ninth in the Caulfield Guineas as he struck interference on two occasions in the straight.



3YO Bay Colt

Sire: Fiorente (IRE)

Dam: Giannarelli (High Chaparral (IRE))

Prizemoney: $777,875

Career: 9:2-4-0

Flemington highlights: 2nd 2023 G2 VRC Sires Produce, 2nd 2023 Victoria Derby

Ben Hayes didn’t necessarily have the Australian Guineas on Apulia’s radar, but recent good jump-outs have persuaded him to have a go at it. He only needs to look back to last year’s Victoria Derby that he can match it with Riff Rocket as he went down to him in a photo. Hayes acknowledges Apulia is a Derby colt and he’s being set for interstate Derbies, but they thought his record was good enough to warrant a first-up tilt at the Australian Guineas. Hitotsu won the Australian Guineas first-up two years ago after winning the Victoria Derby.



3YO Bay Filly

Sire: Shamus Award

Dam: Chaquinta (NZ) (High Chaparral (IRE))

Prizemoney: $431,479

Career: 7:4-2-0

Flemington highlights: Yet to race at Flemington

The Melbourne stable of Te Akau are still on a high after the successes of stable star Imperatriz. Quintessa brings an impressive record herself winning four of her seven starts and follows in the footsteps of her stablemate Imperatriz as a past winner of the Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m). She then acquitted herself well against the older horses last start in the Group 1 BCD Sprint (1400m) and was only beaten a couple of lengths. Her sire Shamus Award won this race after coming back from a spring campaign in which he won the W.S. Cox Plate, his first win. 



3YO Chestnut Gelding

Sire: Ocean Park (NZ)

Dam: Steel Stilettos (Hussonet (USA))

Prizemoney: $112,125

Career: 3:2-0-0

Flemington highlights: 1st 3YO BM70 Hcp, 4th C.S. Hayes Stakes

He suffered his first defeat at his third start when he finished fourth in the C.S. Hayes Stakes but it was an effort that more than matched his wins at his first two starts. He stretched out strongly in the concluding stages and raced more tractably than in his wins and just missed third spot. He still looked a bit inexperienced in the closing stages so he’ll benefit a lot from that run. Mick Price has won the race three times and he’s not without a chance of making it a record fourth with this exciting form Kiwi.

Cap Ferrat


3YO Bay Colt

Sire: Snitzel

Dam: C'est Beau La Vie (Bernardini (USA))

Prizemoney: $465,450

Career: 10:0-1-3

Flemington highlight: 6th C.S. Hayes Stakes

He’s obviously Chris Waller’s number two seed behind Riff Rocket, but judging by his run in the C.S. Hayes Stakes he’s not without a chance. He finished strongly, running the second fastest last 200m of the race in 11.60 seconds which was only bettered by his stablemate in 11.47 seconds. His best run last spring was a second to Tom Kitten in the Spring Champions Stakes at Randwick. He would create history if he won as he would be the first horse to break his maiden status in the Australian Guineas.

Hey Fat Cat


3YO Brown Gelding

Sire: Rubick

Dam: Keep de Rose (NZ) (Keeper)

Prizemoney: $106,625

Career: 9:2-0-0

Flemington highlight: 5th C.S. Hayes Stakes

This tough gelding will be in action for the fourth consecutive Saturday. Two starts ago he set a hectic pace in the C.S. Hayes Stakes and was grabbed with 150m to go and fought on strongly to finish fifth. He then took on the older horses in the Futurity Stakes and ran another credible fifth, but this time he settled back in the field and finished off nicely. He’s bound to run another cheeky race.