If you were to enter the word Guelph in the Google search engine, you would be presented with what appears to be a picture perfect city in South-Western Ontario in Canada.
Commonly known as 'The Royal City', Guelph is 100 kilometres west of downtown Toronto, and its only definitive link with the racing industry is its harness racing track Flamboro Downs.
That's my geography lesson for the day so here is my racing lesson of the day.
This Wednesday, the four legged picture-perfect filly from the Darley stable which carries the same name as the city in Ontario, will start as the shortest priced favourite in the last decade when she steps out in the G1 Thousand Guineas at Caulfield.
Such is her apparent stranglehold on the race she continues to shorten and is currently quoted at $1.35 with Tab.com.au Fixed Odds, while the next best in the market is Gregers at $13.
But don’t be frightened by what appears to be her prohibitive odds – historically, the Thousand Guineas is a great race for favourites.
Six out of the last ten encounters have been won by the punters pick including superstar mare Atlantic Jewel ($1.85) in 2011, Miss Finland ($1.95) in 2006 and Alinghi ($1.85) in 2004.
As I struggle with déjà vu to write this article, just as I wrote about it last year, I believe I have no chance of tipping you into another 10/1 winner like I did with Commanding Jewel.
On face value, it would seem that Guelph has frightened off her opposition, as in recent years, a healthy field of fifteen or sixteen has faced the starter. This year, just nine of our best fillies will do battle for the $300,000 first prize and I’m sure it’s due to the emphatic style that Guelph has won her past two starts which has caused such consternation amongst connections of her opposition.
Charging to the front at the 200 metre mark in the Group 1 Flight Stakes over 1400m at Randwick after enduring a torrid three-wide journey for most of the trip, Guelph further cemented her dominance and reputation, not just in her own age group and sex, but also as a possible contender in the weight-for-age championship, the W.S. Cox Plate.
Barrier five looks ideal but I must admit to a modicum of concern about what appears to be a lack of early pace on the speed map. Godiva Rock looks to be the likely leader while the racing pattern of the rest of the field is that they normally love a trail and look to peel off others when making a run at the home turn.
Could it be the case that Guelph may lead? Obviously that wasn't in the plans last start but I’m pretty certain trainer Peter Snowden and jockey Kerrin McEvoy do not want to be three wide at Caulfield over 1600 metres and looking to circle the entire field on the tight, turning circuit in the closing stages.
What does look blatantly obvious is that Guelph looks way too classy for her opponents on past performances and particularly at the set weights scale.
The John O’Shea trained galloper Bound for Earth ($14) is the only filly to beat Guelph this preparation when proving too strong in the G2 Furious Stakes over 1200m with the winning margin being a short head.
That was Guelph's first run back this campaign and she was flushed out wide on the turn but chased like a tiger and only went down narrowly – unfortunately for her opponents, as the distances get longer, she reigns supreme.
David Hayes is chomping at the bit for Group 1 glory with his filly Gregers ($13 with tab.com.au Fixed Odds) who won the Thousand Guineas Prelude nearly 3 weeks ago; after enjoying the sweet seat behind the leader on what looked to be an on-pace favoured day, she fought on tenaciously to win narrowly.
Se Sauver ($15) is definitely the horse to watch. History shows that the Sir Edward Manifold Stakes over 1600m at Flemington is a successful lead-up race with 9 of the past 15 winners coming through this path. With the race run 10 days prior it is an ideal test at the distance and her win was smart without being mind-blowing.
One thing is for sure… the Darley crew are on cloud nine after securing duel Group 1 victories last Saturday and you can be positive that after McEvoy’s genius ride on Long John in the Caulfield Guineas, he will make the right decisions on Guelph no matter what cards he is dealt.
My tips are Guelph from Se Sauver, May’s Dream and Gregers.
G3 - The Majordomo Hospitality Handicap Steeple Chase
G2 - Prix Raoul Balliere
G2 - Prix Ariste Hemard
G3 - Victress Stakes
G2 - Premier Trophy