Saturday preview: six things to keep an eye on

12 min read
A revamped Caulfield spring sees the MRC hosting another big raceday at the tail end of the spring - the highlights of a strong card being two Group 1 races: the Thousand Guineas and the Sir Rupert Clarke S. There is also Classic action in New Zealand and plenty happening in Perth.

G1 Thousand Guineas - a family affair

This 1600-metre Classic for the fillies has a history of interesting family tie-ins; most recently in 2015 with Stay With Me (Street Cry {Ire}) replicating the deeds of her dam Miss Finland (Redoute's Choice) who won the same race in 2006.

Consecutive runners in 2011 and 2012 saw the three-quarter sisters Atlantic Jewel (Fastnet Rock) and Commanding Jewel (Commands) in the winner's circle whilst the 1951 winner Golden Chariot (Golden Sovereign {Ire}) produced the 1960 winner Wenona Girl (Wilkes {Fr}).

Gallery: Three-quarter sisters Atlantic Jewel and Commanding Jewel were consecutive winners of the G1 Thousand Guineas, images courtesy of Sportpix

This year it is up to the longshot Ersa (Lonhro) to provide a family connection - she being a granddaughter of the 2005 winner Mnemosyne (Encosta De Lago) whose G1 Blue Diamond S.-winning granddaughter Lyre (Lonhro) was fourth behind Flit (Medaglia D'Oro {USA}) in 2019.

Certain stallions have also made their mark on this race with Fastnet Rock having strong influence in recent years - siring the winners Atlantic Jewel, Irish Lights and Amicus. Representing him this year is Carina Queen whilst Joliestar (Zoustar) and Vivy Air (Hellbent) are both out of Fastnet Rock mares... and the favourite Skybird (Exosphere) is out of a mare by his son Wanted.

Fastnet Rock's sire Danehill (USA) sired two winners - Magical Miss and Dashing Eagle whilst his sons Flying Spur (All Time High), Exceed And Excel (Guelph), Commands (Commanding Jewel) and Redoute's Choice (Gallica, Miss Finland) have also been represented by the winners - as the latter's son Snitzel; Yearning successful two years ago.

Ersa looks to provide a family connection in this year's G1 Thousand Guineas being a granddaughter of the 2005 winner Mnemosyne | Image courtesy of Racing Photos

The line has another three runners this year - Coeur Volante (NZ) by Proisir, Vibrant Sun by The Autumn Sun and Quickster by Shamus Award. Meanwhile, Zourion (NZ)(Zoustar) is out of a mare by Danroad whilst Apache Song (Sioux Nation {USA}) is out of a mare by Gonski.

Coeur Volante is a great-granddaughter of Danehill's classy daughter Rose O'War who ran fifth behind Inaflury (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}) in 1998. That mare is one of five Sir Tristram (Ire)-line Thousand Guineas winners, a line represented on Saturday by Skybird and Ersa.

Mnemosyne and Alinghi are two Thousand Guineas winners for Encosta De Lago whose in-form grandson Zoustar has two runners this year - Joliestar and Zourion.

The Scat Daddy (USA) sireline is going for two winners in a row, No Nay Never's (USA) daughter Madame Pommery saluting last year whilst a roughie this time around is Apache Song by Sioux Nation (USA).

Coeur Volante (NZ), the current favourite for the G1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

Written Tycoon had the 2020 winner Odeum whilst his son Winning Rupert has Enna's Dream in at big odds. Yosei won for Invincible Spirit (Ire) in 2010 and his two-time Champion Sire son I Am Invincible has his granddaughter Vivy Air in the mix.

Thousand Guineas winners have done a great job at stud, 23 of them going on to produce stakes winners with 10 represented by Group 1 progeny; the most recent of those being Tie The Knot (Nassipour {USA}) and Russian Emperor (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) - as well as the already mentioned Miss Finland.

And there are currently two serving stallions out of Thousand Guineas winners - Encryption and Impending.

G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S. - a good horse's race

First run in 1951 as the Invitation S., the 1400-metre test endured a number of name changes leading up to 2006 when it was re-named in honour of the long serving VATC/MRC board member and chairman who had died the year before.

The G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S. has always been a good horse's race, won by the likes of Cap D'Antibes (Better Boy {Ire}), Manikato (Manihi), Magari, Ripa (NZ) (Pride Of Kildare {Ire}), Tauto (Good Brandy {GB}), Poetic King (Yeats), Mr. Murphy (Danehill {USA}), Santa Ana Lane (Lope De Vega {Ire}), Behemoth (All Too Hard) and last year Callsign Mav (NZ) (Atlante)... all multiple Group 1 winners.

It has also been won by a number of stallions who have gone onto sire Group 1 winners - Encosta De Lago, Testa Rossa, Exceed And Excel, Raffindale (GB), Rancho Ruler, St Jude, Barely A Moment, Bon Hoffa, Rebel Dane and Matrice.

Seven of its winners are currently standing at stud and its female winners have also fared well with Canny Lass (Bletchingly), Mannerism (Amyntor {Fr}), Pernod (NZ) (Centaine) and Response (Charge Forward) all the dams of stakes winners.

Magic Time, the current favourite for the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke S. at Caulfield | Image courtesy of Sportpix

It is often an open race and that is again the case this year with Magic Time (Hellbent) the favourite on the back of her consistent form including a last-start tough third in The Invitation off a wide run from a tricky gate... though she has again drawn out in barrier 15!

I Am Me (I Am Invincible) has Group 1 form - finishing off nicely when second behind subsequent G1 Champions Sprint winner Imperatriz (I Am Invincible) in the G1 Manikato S. She is having her first crack at the 1400 metres, a distance at which Strait Acer (Headwater) is unbeaten.

Bandersnatch (Casino Prince), Skew Wiff (NZ) (Savabeel), Ayrton (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}), Buffalo River (USA) (Noble Mission {GB}), Munhamek (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}), Cause For Concern (Worthy Cause), Crosshaven (Smart Missile) and Wrote To Arataki (NZ) (Wrote {Ire}) also boast good records at the distance whilst the horse with the best Caulfield record is Ayrton - five starts, five wins!

Buffalo River has also shown a liking for the circuit being the only dual winner of the G3 Moonga S. whilst Chain Of Lightning (Fighting Sun) has visited the track on five occasions - recording three wins and finishing in the placings on the other two occasions.

Buffalo River drew awkwardly in this race last year, doing a bit of work before finishing a game fifth - unfortunately for connections he has drawn even wider this time around, barrier 18!

G1 NZ 1000 Guineas - another Legarto to line up?

So even does this year's running of this Classic contest for fillies look on paper that five of the 18 contestants opened at single-figure odds with early favouritism going to Molly Bloom (NZ) (Ace High) who found the line so well despite finding plenty of trouble over a shorter trip last time out.

Luberon (NZ) (Embellish {NZ}) also had little luck in that same lead-up race - the G2 Soliloquy S. - in which she raced greenly, ducking out so badly with 150 metres to go that she made contact with the outside rail.

Molly Bloom (NZ), the current favourite for the G1 NZ 1000 Guineas at Riccarton | Image courtesy of Race Images

The first three home in that race also line up again - Impendabelle (Impending) again hard to beat having shown such fight recording her third win from seven starts whilst the runner-up Mary Shan (NZ) (Almanzor {Fr}) and the third-placed Tulsi (The Autumn Sun) also had hard luck stories in what was a messy race.

It could be a different form line to the fore with Coolmore's shuttler Justify (USA) looking to continue his good run of international form with Star Of Justice going for three in a row - her most recent victory a smart one in the G3 Barneswood Farms S.

Last year's NZ 1000 Guineas was won by Legarto (NZ) (Proisir) who brought her outstanding New Zealand form to Australia; in March defeating this spring's G1 Toorak H. winner Attrition (Churchill {Ire}) in the G1 Australian Guineas at Flemington.

Legarto (NZ), winner of last year's G1 NZ 1000 Guineas | Image courtesy of Trish Dunell

She is one of a number of this race's winners to enjoy big feature success in Australia, others since the 1980s including Ad Alta (NZ) (Kenfair {NZ}), Tycoon Lil (Last Tycoon {Ire}), Snap (NZ) (Kingdom Bay {NZ}), Canterbury Belle (NZ) (Beaufort Sea {USA}), Noble Heights (NZ) (Sir Tristram {Ire}), The Jewel (NZ) (O'Reilly {NZ}), Seachange (NZ) (Cape Cross {Ire}), King's Rose (NZ) (Redoute's Choice), Daffodil (NZ) (No Excuse Needed {USA}), La Bella Diosa (NZ) (So You Think {NZ}), Kahma Lass (NZ) (Darci Brahma {NZ}) and Risque (NZ) (Darci Brahma {NZ}).

G3 Blue Sapphire S. - Blue Diamond form?

Horses nominated for the G1 Blue Diamond S. earlier in the year gain automatic entry to this race which is another Caulfield feature moved from October to this mid-November date.

Two Blue Diamond winners have managed to return to win this - Flying Artie in 2016 and Written By two years later - and both of those horses are now emerging young stallions, the former calling Blue Gum Farm home whilst the latter stands at Widden Stud.

There is Group 1 form to this year's running with both Arkansaw Kid (Harry Angel {Ire}) and Treasurway (Starspangledbanner) running nice races in the G1 Coolmore Stud S. won by Ozzmosis (Zoustar).

Favourite in this race having finished just behind the placegetters, Arkansaw Kid previously won the Listed Gothic S. at Flemington and he is one of only two horses here to have contested the Blue Diamond S. in which he was an eye-catching third weaving through the field.

Arkansaw Kid, the current favourite for the G3 Blue Sapphire S. at Caulfield | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

The Instructor (Russian Revolution) made the pace in the Blue Diamond which was run to suit the swoopers, holding on soundly for a close-up eighth behind Little Brose (Per Incanto {USA}).

Previously winning a Listed Blue Diamond Preview, he has not won a stakes race since but his form ties in nicely with this race's second favourite Brave Mead (Brave Smash {Jpn}) who looks suited back at the 1400 metres off his G3 Carbine Club S. third on Derby Day.

Eugenius (Magnus) is the other horse backing up from a Cup Week run, game having endured a less than ideal run when fourth in the Listed The Amanda Elliott behind the exciting Schwarz (Zoustar).

G3 Spring S. - future Group 1 winners?

The G3 Spring S. for 3-year-olds is the black-type feature on Newcastle's stand-alone Saturday meeting, one which also sees the running of the $1 million The Hunter.

First run as a Listed race in 1987, earning an upgrade to its current status in 1989, the Spring S. is a race with a history of being won by nice up-and-comers, a number who have gone onto bigger and better things.

Such as Clangalang, Lotteria (Redoute's Choice), Hotel Grand, Sousa (NZ) (Galileo {Ire}), Ilovethiscity, Ebony Grosve (NZ), Encounter, Universal Prince, Dracula, Shogun Lodge (Grand Lodge {USA}), Coronation Day, All Ashore (NZ) and Procol Harum (NZ) who all went on to win Group 1 races.

Six Spring S. winners have gone onto sire Group 1 winners including two stallions currently doing a great job in New Zealand - Proisir and Sweynesse.

Invincible Spy, the current favourite for the G3 Spring S. at Newcastle | Image courtesy of Ashlea Brennan

Up-and-coming stallion Justify makes his mark on this year's running of the race - well-represented by three runners - Jurisprudence coming off a tough Gosford maiden win, Heads You Lose who was game winning at his Kembla Grange debut and Just In Time who was not far away when fifth in the G3 Carbine Club S. at Flemington.

There looks to be a number of other chances including Kintyre (Hallowed Crown) who did it tough out wide in the G1 Spring Champion S., Influential (The Autumn Sun) who didn't seem happy on his Melbourne leg at Flemington and Invincible Spy (I Am Invincible) who has led throughout to win his first two.

G3 WA Champion Fillies S. - Keshi to Boom again?

Making such a big impression storming home to beat the classy Super Smink (Super One) in the Listed Burgess Queen S. on Melbourne Cup Day, Keshi Boom (Spirit Of Boom) is widely expected to remain undefeated - a hot short-priced favourite stepping up to the 1600 metres for the first time.

A $120,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale graduate, bred by Eureka Stud from one of their best families, is one of her durable sire's 23 stakes winners.

A member of the Grant and Alana Williams stable, she kicked off her career with a barnstorming win over 1200 metres at Belmont in mid-July. Subsequently spelled, she resumed with a soft Class 1 victory at Northam before her big win at Ascot.

Keshi Boom, the current favourite for the G3 WA Champion Fillies S. at Ascot | Image courtesy of Western Racepix

The Williamses' stable have a good record in this race, winning it on five occasions... Tuscan Queen (Fastnet Rock) in 2019, Arcadia Queen (Pierro) in 2018, Perfect Reflection (More Than Ready {USA}) in 2015, Delicacy (Al Maher) in 2014 and Dreamaway (More Than Ready {USA}) in 2011.

Alana Williams also rode a winner of this race, successful on Stormy Nova (Metal Storm {Fr}) in 2004.

Keshi Boom's jockey William Pike also has a good record in the race, teaming with the Williams stable aboard Tuscan Queen, Perfect Reflection and Dreamaway whilst also winning on Danebeela (Danetime {Ire}) in 2009.

Grant and Alana Williams hope to link up with William Pike to record another win in the G3 WA Champions Fillies S. | Image courtesy of Western Racepix

First run in 1946, the Champions Fillies S. has been a good pointer to future feature-race success with its winners Brechin Castle (Colours Flying {GB}), Queen Inca (Jungle Boy {GB}), La Trice (Matrice), Starglow (Comet {GB}), Kim Angel (Serheed {USA}), Chestnut Lady (Great Britain), Dreamaway, Delicacy, Perfect Reflection, Arcadia Queen, Tuscan Queen, Copper Beech (NZ) (Treasure Hunt {GB}), Maniana (Remarc), Dawdie (Remarc), Lady Orator (Talking), Cheeky Jan (Pantheist), Blue Rose (Al Dakhil {GB}), Kev's Folly (Night Guardian), Muette (Raconteur) and Our Pocket (Pocket Mate {GB}) all going onto Group 1 glory.

Several winners have had successful broodmare careers as well, 18 producing stakes winners including the 1976 winner Bynsaab (Gay Saba {NZ}) whose daughter Surfside Lady (Pago Pago) won the same race in 1988.

Half of the 18 stakes-producing mares were represented by Group 1 winners; Palace Reign, Muros, Gay Affair (Umteen {NZ}), Lyrical Bid (Spinning World {USA}), Kim Angel (Serheed {USA}), Barakey (Key Business), Chestillion, Superstorm (Sebring) and Artello Bay (Martello Towers) all out of mares who won the Champion Fillies.

Saturday preview
The six