Being an avid horse racing follower who has worked as a strapper at Flemington and Caulfield during my teens, I take pleasure in watching the youngsters take to the track. The Blue Diamond, Golden Slipper, Victorian and AJC Australian Derby, and Crown Oaks – all races that become eyewitness to greatness begin and flourish.
There is one race however that for me stands alone. The Group one Caulfield Guineas over 8 furlongs.
The Guineas is the blue riband for the three-year olds as is known for producing future stallions and turf champions. I can still recall vividly the 1999 event where the crowd were witness to one of the races’ great contents between Redoute’s Choice and Testa Rossa; I can still hear Greg Miles’ call in my head.
I sat down recently (as the races in only weeks away) and analysed the race to come up with my best Guineas field.
2. Redoute’s Choice.
7. Luskin Star.
10. Red Anchor.
12. Storm Queen.
14. Our Maizcay.
15. Dual Choice.
16. Weekend Hussler.
Lonhro – went into the race as John Hawkes’ second-ranked runner after Viscount who had won the G1 George Main Stks in Sydney. In a field (possibly the best Guineas assembled) including Dash for Cash, Viking Ruler, Pure Theatre, Magic Albert and the Bart Cummings trained Ustinov, Lonhro dropped back to last, settled, and once the field turned for home, the big black champion swept over the top to win; an amazing effort. Lonhro was a champion on the track and at present a champion and leading sire in the breeding barn. In 2004 Lonhro was named World Champion Miler in 2004 and finished his career with a Timeform rating of 128.
Redoute’s Choice – The Danehill bay produced a phenomenal effort to win in 1999. His triumph over Testa Rossa and Commands (both stallions) gave the roaring crowd more than what they had paid for with a dogged, head to head slug down the straight. He too has become a leading sire and demands a mammoth stud fee.
Mahogany – Kerry Packer’s favourite horse. An eight-time G1 winner including the Victorian Derby and Australian Derby, he took home the Guineas prize in 1983. Two years later Mahogany would run oh-so close to Octagonal in the Cox Plate.
Manikato – what a galloper he was; a Blue Diamond, Golden Slipper, five straight William Reid Stks wins, and four Futurity Stks firsts. Manikato was successful in the guineas in 1978.
Surround – The only filly to have won the Cox Plate before taking out the VRC Oaks not long after. Surround won the Guineas by two and a half lengths over a very good line-up comprising the AJC Derby winner Great Lover.
Vain – I’ve seen footage of this champion but what’s better than that is having worked for Jim Moloney – Vain’s trainer. I have had the pleasure of listening to the great horseman speak about his loved racehorse. One of the greats of the turf who turned consistently turned in brilliant performances which encompassed the 1969 Caulfield Guineas.
Luskin Star – When you speak about Vain you soon bring up this champion. Luskin Star was unstoppable in 1977 and followed in Jim’s star by claiming the Golden Slipper and Guineas. The chestnut colt went into the Guineas not having run for four-week and still won.
Tulloch – one of Australia’s finest racehorses who did it all from 1000m to two miles. As a three-year old alone, he won 14 from 16 starts; he won the Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup, VRC and AJC Derby’s, and the Guineas in 57’ to mention a few. Tulloch is in both the Australian and NZ Racing Hall of Fames.
Ajax – Inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame in 2004, Ajax was a true champion on the track and like Redoute’s Choice and Lonhro, a champion sire. He would win the Caulfield Guineas in race record time in 1937.
Red Anchor – 14 starts, 9 wins, 4 seconds and a third; an impressive record. Trained by Tommy Smith (originally it was Paul Sutherland), he won the Guineas, Victoria Derby and the Cox Plate all in 1984. In 85’ he was awarded the Australian Horse of the Year award.
Heroic – Another Hall of Famer who was dominant in the 1924 version of the Guineas winning by three lengths after taking out the AJC Derby in a tough fight-out to the line. Heroic would go on to produce Ajax.
Storm Queen – After a first race start defeat, this Bart Cumming’s champion won eight straight including the Golden Slipper. In addition to the Slipper, Storm Queen won the 66’ Guineas, the VCR Lightning Stks, and Sires’ Produce Stks.
Encounter – A champion two-year old and outstanding three-year old who raced against many tier one gallopers. Just before the barriers opened in his successful Guineas win, the line-up included General Nediym, Schubert, Umrum, and Gold Guru. Encounter will most likely be remembered for his close and unlucky loss in the Slipper.
Our Maizcay – in 1995 there were queries over whether such a brilliant horse could handle the 1600m but Our Maizcay was never in trouble putting a three length gap on the field on straightening to win effortlessly from Ravarda with a black colt running on late for third called Octagonal.
Dual Choice – the Showdown filly Dual Choice won the Caulfield in outstanding fashion winning by three lengths. She went on to prove herself one of the best sprinter-milers of the modern era winning the Craven A Stakes, Lightning Stakes and Oakleigh Plate as a 3yo. She repeated her Oakleigh Plate victory at 4 followed by a second in the Newmarket before retiring to stud.
Weekend Hussler – The Hussonet gelding prepared by Ross McDonald at Caulfield, was named as Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 2008 and Champion Three Year Old in the same year. In his three-year-old season, Weekend Hussler won 9 from 11 start comprising the Guineas and Randwick Guineas, Newmarket Hcp, Oakleigh Plate, Ascot Vale Stks, and George Ryder Stks.