Wednesday's Caulfield feature, the One Thousand Guineas (05:40 BST) over 1600m for three-year-old fillies, has assembled an even group of the fairer sex staking claim for group one glory.
With the Sydney carnival now over, Flight Stakes fillies Dear Demi and Longport head down south, while Flight Stakes winner Norzita the early Thousand Guineas favourite goes to the paddock. Waiting to repel the Sydney duo are improving locals coming off two main lead up races, Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) at Flemington and the Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield.
Between the three lead up races, 20 of the last 21 Thousand Guineas winners have used at least one of them, the most winners coming through the G2 Edward Manifold Stakes, nine in total, the last Gallica in 2008. The Guineas Prelude has produced seven winners, the last Yosei in 2010. That filly was also the last Thousand Guineas winner to come through the G1 Flight Stakes, a race that has produced just four winners at Caulfield.
In assessing the merits of the form from all three races, I am relying on the local form to stand up through the Manifold Stakes winner Maybe Discreet marginally rated ahead of Molto Bene and Longport. However the chances in the race don't stop there. This year no dominant filly has a stranglehold on the race which opens it right up for Betfair's value punters.
Adelaide-trained filly Maybe Discreet (Timeform rated 108p) has continued to improve her ratings since being stepped up to 1600m and remains unbeaten in her only two runs at that distance. Her first win was in the Listed Morphettville Guineas, strolling away from her rivals winning with plenty in hand. Taken to Melbourne she handled the step up in grade in the G2 Edward Manifold Stakes with a strong effort to hold out Members Joy after doing plenty early in the race.
I have no doubt Maybe Discreet will come on again from that run. The fact she is stabled at Caulfield is a bonus, she will race handy making her own luck and looks good value trading on Betfair at [$7.50].
One of the dangers Molto Bene, [$5.80] on Betfair, is just peaking at the right time and will appreciate the conditions. Also from Adelaide, Molto Bene will be third up from a spell today. Fresh up she caught the eye over an unsuitable 1100m at Caulfield getting home hard late from 13th on the home turn, beaten just under four lengths. Last start she was even more impressive in the G3 Guineas Prelude over 1400m again at Caulfield this time behind Lady of Harrods. On that occasion she was near the tail of the field settling down but covered ground getting into the race before closing fast late, beaten half a length. Trainer Will Clarken has trialled the filly since that run so she will be ready to peak over the slightly longer distance.
Tea Rose Stakes winner and G1 Flight Stakes runner-up Longport faces a few obstacles. Not only is she coming off tough runs in Sydney but has travelled to Melbourne and must adapt to racing anti clockwise around the tricky Caulfield track. A natural on pace galloper, Longport will be opposed to others in the race with similar racing styles and while there is no doubting the fillies' class she does face a different assignment here. That said, trainer John Thompson has done a remarkable job with her this preparation and if he can produce her in top order then based on her Sydney ratings she is right in the race.
There is nothing wrong with the form of the locally trained filly Members Joy who is raced by a syndicate of owners from the Melbourne Racing Club but strangely she is yet to win on her home track in five runs. The talented grey filly just failed to reel in Maybe Discreet last start in the Manifold Stakes after travelling wide throughout. It was a very good run, but at the same time a hard run. She has not fared well in the barrier draw again so will need luck.
The other Sydney filly Dear Demi comes into the race with the highest Timeform rating (on juvenile form) but has been racing dour indicating a longer distance maybe to her liking. In an intriguing riding switch, Jim Cassidy who has ridden Longport in her most recent runs, jumps aboard Dear Demi presumably with longer races in mind. Dear Demi is drawn in the extreme outside barrier 18, which is no help at all.
Back Maybe Discreet @ [$7.50]