Caulfield Guineas Day Snapshot
Stars collide on Saturday
Four Group 1s means a feast of stars collide on the card. The Ladbrokes Stakes (Caulfield Stakes) sees a field of 11 (five internationally-trained) come together, including Murray Baker's stars Jon Snow and Bonneval. Aidan O'Brien unleashes Johannes Vermeer and The Taj Mahal (formerly Taj Mahal), while Willie Mullins' Riven Light is the other international Caulfield-bound. The Caulfield and Thousand Guineas stars are undoubtedly Royal Symphony, Catchy, Alizee and Shoals, but they have to get it done on 'grand final day' to confirm that status.
Toorak a tantalising proposition
Given the weight scale and 18-horse field, the mile handicap is always an intriguing proposition to figure out, and the 2017 edition is no different. The Hayes and Waller camps have 10 of the 18 horses assured of a run between them, but only two of Waller's managed to get an inside-six draw out of that 10. Hayes won it last year with He's Our Rokkii, while it was Darren Weir's race the previous two with Lucky Hussler, while the four editions before that went to stables based outside Victoria. Adding more intrigue to this year's race is the international runner Kaspersky for Jane Chapple-Hyam, while Hugo Palmer's Mask Of Time waits on a run as emergency. Kaspersky is an out-and-out miler and ran fifth in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot for Michelle Payne, who misses the ride on Saturday due to illness, with Luke Nolen picking up the ride.
Jockey shortage or opportunity beckons?
It seemed pretty inevitable that several Melbourne regular hoops would head to Sydney - and several Sydney hoops stay there rather than come down - for the $10 million Everest, but that has simply opened the door down south for some rising stars and some experienced hoops deprived of the big Group 1's to get their chance. Beau Mertens, for instance, is doubling his number of career rides at the elite level in less than an hour-and-a-half.
Records of Group 1 'maideners'
Daniel Moor - 29th G1 ride (Toorak emergency Wall of Time)
Chris Parnham - 24th G1 ride (Petrology)
Anthony Darmanin - Ninth G1 ride (Levendi)
Cory Parish - eighth G1 ride (Snitzson)
Ben Thompson - sixth and seventh G1 rides (Al Passem, Turnitaround)
Ben Allen - sixth G1 ride (Jacquinot Bay)
Beau Mertens - fourth, fifth and sixth G1 rides (Abbey Marie, The Mission, Sovereign Nation)
Price, Hayes pack huge Guineas Day hand
He mightn't have the star colts of last spring - Extreme Choice and Flying Artie - at his disposal, but Mick Price has a large hand on the biggest day Group 1-wise at his home track. He has 10 acceptors - including She's So High in the Thousand Guineas, and Holy Snow/Mighty Boss in the Caulfield Guineas. And the most intrigue might even centre on the one-time Australian Horse of the Year, Lankan Rupee, returning in the G2 Schillaci Stakes, hoping to bounce back from incurring EIPH (bleed on the lungs) at his last outing in Adelaide. But the Lindsay Park operation dwarf Price's numbers - accepting with an astonishing 21 horses on Guineas Day, including a sextet in the Toorak Handicap, star filly Catchy in the $2m Guineas, and Pure Scot in the Thousand Guineas. The below-six stables account for a tick over 45 per cent of the runners (132 acceptors, minus two scratchings as of Thursday).
Most runners by stable
David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig - 21
Mick Price - 10
Darren Weir - 8
Tony McEvoy - 8
James Cummings - 6
Chris Waller - 6
Caulfield Guineas meeting at Caulfield, picture ThoroughbredNEWS