The Australian Guineas is a 1600-metre Group 1 race presented by the Victoria Racing Club during the autumn racing carnival at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.
Eligibility is colts, geldings and fillies aged three years running under set weight conditions of 56.5 kg for the colts and geldings and 54.5 kg for the fillies.
Australian Guineas Race Details
Race Distance: 1600m
Prize Money: $1,000,000
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When Is The Australian Guineas: 2/3/24
What Time Is The Australian Guineas: TBA
Where Is The Australian Guineas: Flemington Racecourse
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More Details About The Australian Guineas
Prizemoney for the Australian Guineas is $1 million.
The winner in 2023 was Legarto, a New Zealand filly by Proisir, a handy racer by the remarkable Choisir from 2009 that is supplying some good stakes winners, some of which are in the upper-six-figures for earnings.
Proisir’s daughter out of Georgia Girl has already won above $1 million from a mere seven jumps for six wins. A bit oddly, the one race in which Legarto failed to win was a New Zealand Listed race where she finished fourth, after which she crossed the ditch and won the Group 1 Australian Guineas.
She received a total of $605,000 for the win, a replay of which can be seen at the following link.
The Australian Guineas takes place in early March and is the feature race at a meeting that involves the Group 2 Blamey Stakes, the Group 3 Frances Tressady Stakes and the Listed grade Bob Hoysted Stakes and Festival of Racing Stakes.
History of the Australian Guineas
The race made its first jump in 1986 and has only moved once, when it shifted to Caulfield Racecourse while Flemington was having a redo to improve the facility.
In what has become standard procedure for VRC races, the name has been changed of multiple occasions. It was the Australasian Guineas from inception through 2004. It was then the Cadbury Guineas, which we lovers of chocolate preferred, until 2010, when it was the Crown Guineas. It became the Australian Guineas in 2011 and the name has persisted.
The length of the race was adjusted for the three jumps from 1998 – 2000. It has held steady at 1600 metres since 2001, back to the original trip from of 1600 metres from 1986 – 1997.
This newer race was Group 3 grade for the first year and Group 1 since 1987.
Venue for the Australian Guineas
Flemington first started holding races along the alluvial flats of the Maribyrnong River in 1840. Alluvial flats, for those from Western Australia, are flats that are created by receding floodwaters that deposit some soil from upstream.
Just having a little lark with the Sand Gropers. They have alluvial flats from the Swan River that make for one of the most scenic vistas in all of racing when the gallopers thunder down the back straight at one of our favourite racing venues, Ascot Racecourse in Perth.
Those alluvial flats are not all that popular with the locals around Flemington since the VRC and Racing Victoria put some barriers in place to divert the floodwaters away from Flemington that have pushed the waters onto the properties of homeowners and businesses in close proximity to the track.
Flemington is home to the Melbourne Cup, which has taken to marketing the race as the world’s richest handicap and the world’s richest 3200-metre horse race, which kind of puts us in mind of some of those wine or beer festivals where every winery and brewery that shows up goes home with an award.
Flemington is used for Thoroughbred, jumps and steeplechase racing.
Other notable Group 1 races at Flemington are the Victoria Derby and the Newmarket Handicap.
As of autumn 2023, Flemington is the jump-site for 14 Group 1, 9 Group 2 and 14 Group 3 races.
The track resembles the shape of a pointy pear, but a key feature is a 1200-metre straight that is known as the Straight Six, where the only reasons for horses to change track position is to find the best footing or to catch a draft off the others.
For 1600-metre races, the horses start almost opposite the finish line and grandstands, and then run a long sweeping turn that forms the base of the pear. From there, it is on to the home straight on the north side of the track.
Racing History of the Australian Guineas
The winners of the Australian Stakes represent the crème de la crème of Australian Thoroughbreds. Any connections with talented three-year-olds suited for 1600-metre races will want a barrier in the race.
Many of the winners were more than simply notable and we cannot possibly give a full accounting of the better winners, but we will supply details for the slightly lesser-known winners and make mention of the great horses, the names of which will be familiar to racing fans and general public alike.
The first winner in 1986 was True Version.
True Version was a colt by Bletchingly, so that side of the line includes Biscay and Star Kingdom is represented on both sides of the line.
True Version dropped in 1982 and made just 13 jump for seven wins and four placings. He had two Group 1 wins – The Champagne Stakes and the Sires’ Produce Stakes, which would have been three Group 1 wins if had been able to wait a year before becoming a three-year-old, as the Australian Guineas was promoted the following year.
All those wins and placings when True Version was racing were worth under $350,000.
True Version supplied plenty of offspring that included many stakes winners between 1987 and 2001, but none out-earned him, so it might be true, if a bit unkind, to say he flopped as a stud.
The 1987 winner was Military Plume.
This Kiwi galloper made 25 jumps for eight wins and nine placings.
He won Group 1 races, being the beneficiary of the first jump of the Australian Guineas at Group 1 grade, along with the Group 1 Rothwell’s Stakes in Western Australia that is now known as the Kingston Town Classic.
Despite the winning, Military Plume did not cross the million-dollar stakes winning benchmark. He was beaten at times by the likes of Rubiton and Vo Rogue.
He sired many stakes winners, with the best in terms of winning in Australia was a 2000 Gelding from Scentessa named Light Of Success that won just under $1 million.
The 1988 winner was Flotilla that did break the $1 million dollar barrier with four Group 1 wins and two Group 2 wins, along with a couple of seconds in Group 1 races. His form line was 29 jumps for 11 wins and 8 placings.
After racing, Flotilla was a good, but not great sire, although a high percentage of his progeny were stakes winners.
The 1989 winner was King’s High.
He won about $1.5 million from 37 jumps for 8 wins and 12 placings. He sired quite a few stakes winners, but nothing close to his ability.
A legend appears in 1990 winner Zabeel.
We will not devote much space to Zabeel’s racing other than to say his other Group 1 win was the Craiglee Stakes, which is now jumping as the Makybe Diva Stakes.
Oh, but what a stud!
Just have a gander at his offspring.
Octagonal, Vengeance And Rain and Might And Power, all winners of above $5 million and in the case of Might And Power, winner of the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. Another Melbourne Cup winner was Efficient. Sky Heights won the Caulfield Cup, as did Railings.
Maldavian and Savabeel won Cox Plates. Jezabeel won the Melbourne Cup.
This is only a partial list.
In between Zabeel’s win in 1990 and Mahogany in 1994, the winners of the Australian Guineas were Triscay (1991), Jolly Old Mac (1992) and Kenny’s Best Pal (1993).
Everyone knows about Triscay. Here, we will include that she was the first filly to win the race.
Jolly Old Mac was another New Zealander that had just the Australian Guineas for a major win. He was gelded. His form line was 21 jumps for five wins and five placings, all those placings being seconds. He won just over $500,000.
Kenny's Best Pal from 1993 was by Bletchingly, but he was only okay as a racer. After winning the Australian Guineas, he never won or placed again in his seven final jumps.
The best progeny by Kenny's Best Pal in terms of money was the 2004 gelding Kenny’s World that won above $638,000, but there were numerous gallopers that won above $200,000.
The 1994 winner of the Australian Guineas, Mahogany, needs little by way of examination.
Foaled in 1990, this gelding by Ireland’s Written Tycoon left a form line of 43 jumps for 19 wins and 12 placings. His stakes winnings were just a bit above $3.6 million on his way to becoming the Champion Three Year Old and Horse of the Year for the 1993 – 1994 season.
In this list of winners, the 1995 winner, Baryshnikov, looks like a plodder. The Australian Guineas was his only Group 1 win. He sired many, but none surpassed his stakes of just under $500,000.
The 1996 winner, Flying Spur, was by the outstanding American sire Danehill. Flying Spur won six and placed in eight of his 20 jumps, returning over $2 million in winnings. His best win was the 1995 Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes and after racing, he would go on to be declared the leading sire in Australia for 2006 – 2007.
Flying Spur supplied Boom Time that won over $2.5 million, along with a $1.1 million winner named Casino Prince. A 1998 colt named Firebolt raced in the northern hemisphere and won the equivalent of about $2 million. Forensics was a 2004 mare that won over $3.5 million. Magnus and Mahuta are two others that won above $1 million, while Mentality was a 2003 colt that won nearly $2 million.
Looking at Flying Spur’s progeny, we left out dozens of racers that returned earnings in the high six-figure range.
Reset won the Australian Guineas in 2004, along with the Group 1 Futurity Stakes that same year. This son of Zabeel won $850,000 from five jumps, all of which were wins. That figure does not seem impressive, but Reset’s other three wins were $50,000 dollar 3YO handicaps.
His better progeny includes the two-time Group 1 winner Rebel Raider, three time Group 1 winner Fawkner (2013 Caulfield Cup), Pinker Pinker (2011 Cox Plate) and a colt named Hauraki that won the Group 1 Epsom Handicap and a filly name Set Square that won the Group 1 VRC Oaks. Both those were from Reset’s 2011 crop.
We have written extensively about 2005 Australian Guineas winner Al Maher, Apache Cat (2006) and Miss Finland (2007).
We mention those three here just to give some idea of how stacked is the list of winners of the Australian Guineas.
Light Fantastic from 2008 won over $1 million from 18 jumps, while the 2009 winner, Heart Of Dreams won over $1.6 million from 31 jumps and beat Whobegotyou to win the 2009 Group 1 Underwood Stakes.
The 2010 winner was Rock Classic.
He was by Fastnet Rock and his form line was 12 jumps for three wins and 2 placings for about $670,000. He was gelded, so he did not continue that great line. The Australian Guineas was his only good win, where Bart Cummings coached him over the line from a starting price of $18, 4.5 lengths in front of the $1.60 favourite Denman.
Shamrocker was a filly by New Zealand’s O’Reilly that won the race in 2011 to add to her nearly $2 million haul. She also won the Group 1 AJC Derby and had numerous high placings in other top races. The win in the 2400-metre Derby had her connections feeling expansive, so they lined her up in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, but she beat only two of the other 22 in the field.
Three foals by Deep Impact and one by Lord Kanaloa did not do enough to make mum proud.
We will jump over 2012 winner Mosheen and 2013 winner Ferlax for a closer look at the 2014 winner, Shamus Award.
Shamus Award needed just 14 jumps for two wins and eight placings to amass over $2.4 million, a figure boosted by his win in the 2013 Cox Plate, where he was the first galloper to win the Plate as a maiden victory.
His best offspring were two-time Group 1 winner Mr. Quickie, three-time Group 1 winner Incentivise, three-time Group 1 winner Duais and Media Award ad El Patroness, both one-time Group 1 winners.
Wandjina by Snitzel was the winner of the Australian Guineas in 2015.
He was modest by comparison to some of the other winners, both as a racer and as a sire, but he was second in the 2015 All Aged Stakes ad he beat our all-time favourite Chautauqua in that race, which almost makes us want to dislike Wandjina.
His top contribution at stud was the 2016 filly Wandabaa that won just under $1 million.
The 2016 winner was Palentino.
He was a 2012 foal by Irish super stud Teofilo. After winning the Australian Guineas, he lined up against some true greats. He was fifth to winner Black Heart Bart in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes and had his revenge next up, beating Bart in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes. His final win was the Group 2 Blamey Stakes, where he just sledged the field and beat second placer Tosen Stardom by over three lengths. His final race was the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap, but he did not have his “A” game that day or the juice to stay in with It’s Somewhat and Happy Clapper.
He has been standing at various studs, but has not supplied anything notable yet.
Hey Doc was the 2017 winner.
He won the Manikato Stakes that same year, and then won that Group 1 race again in 2020, with the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes at Perth in 2019. This gelding made 32 jumps for 10 wins and 5 placings and over $3.1 million.
In 2018, Grunt was first across the line in the Australian Guineas.
Grunt, aside from having one of the best names of which we could think, was almost inconsequential compared to some of the other winners, but he did win the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes and over $1.3 million from 12 jumps for five wins and 1 placing.
He was another by O’Reilly to win the race. He is doing his stud beginning in 2019, with a 2020 colt named Veight to his credit that has just two jumps for two wins and $200,000.
Mystic Journey took the race in 2019.
She made 28 jumps for 12 wins and 6 placings for above $4.1 million in prizemoney. She split time journeying between racing in New Zealand and Australia before winning a Listed Grade race, a Group 2 where she beat the good racer Fundamentalist quite easily, a minor race back in NZ, another Listed race before winning the Australian Guineas.
She then paid off her believers by winning the All-Star Mile by running down Hartnell and Alizee to win by over one length to pocket the top prize of $2.25 million. Her final win was the Group 2 W. H. Stocks Stakes, but she raced on to place in five of her final seven jumps.
Mystic Journey does not yet have a progeny record as best we could determine.
Another better type was the 2020 winner Alligator Blood, which just might be a better name than Grunt, although we have yet to decide.
Alligator Blood was by All Too Hard, so this gelding would have come to the turf with high expectations. He delivered in spades, winning more than $6 million for 27 jumps for 13 wins and 5 placings.
He might have won far more had he not been banned because one of his owners failed the scrutiny of Racing NSW. That ban was continued in Victoria. Alligator Blood was winner of the 2020 Magic Million Guineas, but he had that result stripped as a result of a positive swab for a banned substance. He made just three jumps in 2021, failing to place, even though none of those jumps was above Group 3 Grade.
He is listed as active and he won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes in his first jump in February of 2023, after concluding 2022 with a win in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes.
Results like this raise the obvious question of why a horse of this ability was given banned substances, but there is not obvious answer other than total daftness.
The 2021 winner was Lunar Fox.
He won more than $1.1 million from 23 jumps for three wins and one placing. His status is given as Transferred, perhaps no wonder since four of his last five jumps found him stone motherless.
Hitotsu was the 2022 winner.
He is having a spell after making eight jumps for four wins and over $3.1 million in prizemoney. He has won three Group 1 races – The Victoria Derby, Australian Guineas and the ATC Derby. He has not race since April of 2022, so our speculation is that he might make another jump or two, but another Group 1 win will see him off to the sheds.
We hope to remember to be grateful for the rich racing history of the Australian Guineas the next time our assignment is to detail a perfunctory Group 3 race for four-year-old mares, hoping for a decent winner.
Even as a relatively newer race, considering the rich history of Australian Thoroughbred racing history, the Australian Guineas is where the best racers will be found. Even some of the lessor known racers were of the quality that makes us hopeful for the future of racing in Oz.
Australian Guineas Past Winners
|2009||Heart Of Dreams|
|2002||Dash For Cash|
|1993||Kenny's Best Pal|
|1992||Jolly Old Mac|