The final Group 1 day of racing in Victoria awaits punters at Caulfield on Saturday afternoon as a 10-race meeting is set down for decision. The Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) for three-year-old fillies is the feature event of the day, while the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) will also be run. On a card littered with plenty of black-type racing, perfect conditions on Saturday should mean each runner will get their chance if good enough. The track will be a Good 4, with the rail in the true position, for a Group 1 day of racing that is set to commence at 12:20pm AEDT.
Keep reading for our free Thousand Guineas Day race-by-race preview and quaddie selections
Race 1: Handicap (1800m)
Our best bet of the day comes up in the opening event as Dunkel makes his return from a six-month spell. The last-start Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) winner strung together an incredible debut campaign which culminated in top-tier success. He boasts a record of six wins from eight starts, with some breathtaking performances along the way. He put in a nice trial over 1200m at Benalla on November 13, and the bloke is just a natural winner. Ain’tnodeeldun is obviously his biggest threat, but the step back to 1800m from the 2040m last time out might bring about his downfall.
Forbidden City was beaten by a neck in the Group 3 Hong Jockey Club Stakes (1400m) during Cup week, and a step back into this sort of company looks ideal. The five-year-old found Group 1 winner Skew Wiff a touch too classy late, but her run suggested she was worth following. The I Am Invincible mare has five placings from eight goes at the 1400m and, from barrier five under Billy Egan, will be given every opportunity to break that duck at Caulfield. Egan will look to settle her on the heels of the leaders, and with an economical run, she should have too much in reserve for her rivals.
Mr Mojo Risin’ bought up a confidence-building win at Moonee Valley on November 3. The four-year-old gelding was ridden more positively by Jamie Kah and won in dominant fashion. Kah will look to hold a positive spot again from barrier six and take luck out of the equation, considering it has been bad luck that has hurt him in the past. With just 56kg on his back up on speed, Mr Mojo Risin’ will be in this for a long way.
Saltaire was the best of the beaten brigade behind Mumbai Muse in the Group 3 Red Roses Stakes (1100m). The filly from the John O’Shea barn has been racing well without winning this campaign, but she gets her chance to change that in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m). Barrier 11 is offset by her want to settle towards the rear of the field, and with Blake Shinn sticking in the saddle, the pair should gain a nice tow into the race. Saltaire has a strong turn of foot, and it should be enough to salute.
Despite a poor run at Randwick on November 7, Curran looks to be a great each-way play in the Listed Caulfield Village Stakes. His run two starts back in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) looks better than what it reads on paper, considering he was beaten by just over four lengths. He produced some strong late sectionals on that day and was taking ground off the likes of Uncommon James and Chain Of Lightning. With plenty of speed engaged, Matt Cartwright will have this guy settled off the speed, and on the back of a hot tempo, Curran can blouse his rivals late.
The Group 3 Blue Sapphire Stakes (1400m) looks to be a race in four, but we have settled with Brave Mead as he steps back to the 1400m. The three-year-old colt was a touch disappointing over the mile in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m), but the 1400m looks to be right up his alley. He was a smart track-and-trip winner two runs back against a field which is no harder than this. Mark Zahra hops back on board, and if the pair can land a spot one off the fence, rather than being trapped three wide, he should be too good.
The Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) has attracted a strong field of 13 three-year-old fillies vying for the $1.5 million on offer. Punters cannot split Skybird and Coeur Volante at the top of the market, while the consistent Arctic Glamour and Kimochi will look to spoil the party for favourite-backers.
The Inferno has chased home Imperatriz in both starts this campaign and continually catches the eye when doing so. He steps up the 1400m for just the second time of his career, but his sole go at the trip resulted in a win in the Singapore Classic back in 2020. The seven-year-old gelding’s run in the 1200m Manikato Stakes suggests he will appreciate the extra furlong. With just 55kg on his back, he gets in perfectly at the weights compared to a runner like I Am Me, who he finished a half-length off last time out. If The Inferno can produce his best, he can blaze the Caulfield turf and bring up a long-overdue win.
Brayden Star has been racing in fine form this time in, and on the back of his narrow defeat in the Bendigo Cup (2400m), he should appreciate the step back in grade. The Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young-trained runner was nosed out by Interpretation on that day and has consistently been running in races harder than this. Damien Oliver will have him positioned midfield with cover from barrier six, and as long as the pair see clear air at the right time, Brayden Star should have a bit too much class over the 2000m.
We’re hoping Damien Oliver can bring the curtain down on a glittering Victorian career with a win on Queen Of The Ball in the Group 3 How Now Stakes (1200m). The Michael Freedman-trained mare was a dominant winner in the Group 3 Begonia Belle Stakes (1100m), saluting by a length while running away from her rivals. She is already a four-time Group 3 winner, and with Oliver sticking on board, the duo can settle towards the rear of the field once again and, with one swoop, add more black-type success to her record.