Sports

Mighty upset: Price out to shock again in Guineas

Michael Walker and Mighty Boss stun punters in last year's Caulfield Guineas.

Michael Walker and Mighty Boss stun punters in last year's Caulfield Guineas.Credit:AAP

A year ago this weekend trainer Mick Price caused one of the biggest boilovers of the racing season when he sent out the unconsidered outsider Mighty Boss to land the Caulfield Guineas at 100/1.

On Saturday he is hoping lightning will strike twice when he saddles up another outsider, Tavisan, in the same $2 million race.

Not that Tavisan, a Kiwi-bred colt, is regarded as quite as forlorn a hope Mighty Boss was. The three-year-old son of Tavistock has proven himself competitive at group 2 level already this season when he ran second to one of Saturday's rivals, Native Soldier, in the Guineas Prelude, and is currently available at odds of around $17 for the big race.

That run behind Native Soldier was over 1400 metres of the Caulfield course. Before that he had finished third at group 2 level down the Flemington straight behind Encryption in the Danehill Stakes, while on his first run of the spring after a short freshen-up he got to within half a length of the highly regarded Brutal in the listed McKenzie Stakes at The Valley.

So while Tavisan wouldn't be considered an upset on the Mighty Boss scale, it would surprise many punters who regard Chris Waller's Golden Rose winner and odds-on favourite The Autumn Sun as already past the post.

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However, it's one of the oldest axioms in racing that owners, trainers and jockeys should never be afraid of one horse, and Price is happy to have a shy at the stumps at his home track having ruled out an earlier plan to drop Tavisan back to 1200 metres for the Coolmore, the group 1 sprint on Derby Day which has become such an alternative target for potential Guineas candidates.

Tavisan is likely to be one of a handful battling to run from the front so he will need to be smartly away from barrier nine if he is to dictate the pace under Michael Walker, who pulled off that stunning upset on Mighty Boss a year ago.

''He should have the run of the race. We were hoping to draw inside four or five and have a conservative cuddle in the run, but it's not to be from that barrier as we will have to make a little bit of use of him,'' Price said.

''Hopefully we are not exposed too much. He is hard fit, he is thriving and I couldn't have him any better but he's got to be good enough on the day. His formlines are good … he's round about there but he hasn't beaten them.''

''I felt we were launching at Native Soldier [in the Prelude] but still couldn't get him. He was fit, well ridden, perfectly sound and having a red-hot go and hasn't been able to pick him up.''

In his favour is that he is by Tavistock, a sire who is an influence for stamina, while Native Soldier is by the sprinter Sepoy and must be regarded as suspect at the 1600-metre trip. Favourite The Autumn Sun has won at group 1 level over 1400 metres and the distance should hold no fears for him, nor should Oohood, the filly trying to beat the colts, as she has beaten her own age and sex over 1600 metres last time out in the group 1 Flight Stakes in Sydney.

''Native Soldier, Leonardo Da Hinchi [Native Soldier's Darren Weir-trained stablemate] will be up there, Tavisan will be up there.

''There's a few that will want to get a conservative soft run. There are a lot of horses there that are midfield, get-back horses. Anything drawn wide is going to get back.

''I think it might favour what's up the front, especially a good horse like Leonardo or Native Soldier if he gets a mile.''

Price will also be trying to win the Thousand Guineas and complete a high-profile double with his filly Seabrook.

The daughter of Hinchinbrook has already landed one group 1 win over 1600 metres when she took out the Champagne Stakes in Sydney as two-year-old. But she disappointed in the Golden Rose.

''She went to Sydney and had the thumps. It's like an electrolyte imbalance from the stress of travel I believe. I took two fillies there, one [Miss Admiration] won a group 3 race, one had a bit of travel stress. That was not her [Seabrook], that was 100 per cent not her.

''I worked her with Tavisan Saturday and Tuesday and there was nothing between them.

''Tavisan is a good working horse, and whatever his form is, if it translates it's got to put her in the race.''

Michael Lynch, The Age's expert on soccer, has had extensive experience of high level journalism in the UK and Australia. Michael has covered the Socceroos through Asia, Europe and South America in their past three World Cup campaigns. He has also reported on Grands Prix and top class motor sport from Asia and Europe. He has won several national media awards for both sports and industry journalism.

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