The revamped Thousand Guineas certainly hasn’t dulled numbers.
I don't mind the Thousand Guineas moving to the back end of the carnival. It hasn't really found its place in a while, going between Saturdays and Wednesday, but now sitting alongside the Rupert Clarke as a nice little back end to the carnival.
It allows some of the earlier Sydney fillies to either freshen up and have a crack rather than back up from the Flight Stakes, or work their way through the grades and have this as a target.
The Melbourne fillies look right up to scratch as well and the winners of the main lead ups look very smart, occupying the top two spots in the market.
Skybird holds the call having kept her unbeaten record intact with a breathtaking finish to win the Group 2 Fillies Classic (1600m) at Moonee Valley, getting back to last from the wide gate but surging up the inside to score narrowly.
All her wins have been about late speed- she's earnt a + on her Timeform rating because she's finishing very quickly, suggesting she can and probably will rate higher if she runs her race more evenly.
She's drawn very wide at all three starts so the question will be if she can take a position closer to the speed because she may need to in order to win.
I think there are only two fillies you could possible take out of the Moonee Valley race. Skybird is no doubt the main one, but Quickster is the other.
She's still a maiden and has only had two starts which is the obvious knock. A quick look at recent winners and the least experienced winner of the Guineas I could find in recent years was Odeum who won the race at her fourth start, and was already a winner.
That said, she had no luck whatsoever at Moonee Valley, she was held up badly around the turn, back with Skybird who stuck to the fence as Quickster came wider and only really got out at the 150m mark after brushing with another runner. Her final 200m was around a length slower than Skybird, but her final 100m or so was excellent and she was 1200-1600m at just her second start there. No surprise to see her backed all-in, and around $17 on opening (from $26 all-in) seems like a fair gamble.
Coeur Volante proved that she could be ridden positively last start when sent forward to sit in the 1-1 from a wide gate in the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m).
That was a strong win. They ran a good clip early and she was holding them all comfortably late, giving her the highest last start rating going into this race at 108. She'll certainly have no issues running out a strong mile, and her tactical versatility may well be the difference.
Then we have the Sydney (ish) form, headed by Arctic Glamour. She looked good winning the Listed Reginald Allen (1400m) two back but was plain disappointing in the Group 2 Callandar-Presnell (1600m) last start despite only being beaten 2.5 lengths.
I didn't like the fact that Kerrin McEvoy said she raced very flat and was looking for the paddock. She beat Joliestar in the Reginald Allen who then came out and was good in second at Flemington in what looks a shaky race.
Those drawn wide and coming from back were very well suited on the day and the winner, Roll On High, isn't running. I think the Melbourne form looks the way to go this year, and at the prices, I think Quickster is the best value. No doubt Skybird has shown far more but there wasn't that much between them last start and no doubt Quickster should've finished much closer.