Some of the most exciting three-year-olds in the land will vie for glory in the $1 million Australian Guineas at Flemington Racecourse on Saturday, March 2. This Group 1 contest always attracts a strong field and it has seen plenty of illustrious winners over the years, including the legendary Zabeel. It is a real highlight of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival and you can expect to see several leading trainers battling it out for victory. It promises to be a ferociously competitive race taking place over 1600m and it will require a phenomenal burst of pace to emerge triumphant.

This contest began life as the Group 3 Australasian Guineas back in 1986 and it earned Group 1 status the following year. Between 2005 and 2009 it became known as the Cadbury Guineas, before it was changed to the Crown Guineas in 2010, and it has been the Australian Guineas ever since 2011. It is limited to three-year-olds, with set weights: 56.5kg for colts and geldings and 54.5kg for fillies. Yet fillies have not had much success here in recent times as it has been an extremely male-dominated race.

The only fillies to clinch victory here over the past 30 years were Shamrocker in 2011 and Mosheen in 2012. Since then the normal order has been restored as males have secured six straight wins. Last year, the $5.50 second favourite Grunt romped to victory after chiming in the final 200m. In doing so, he became just the second horse after Mosheen to win from barrier 16 out of 16 in this race’s illustrious history. It was his first ever Group 1 race, but his fourth victory in a row. He also became the third runner in four years to win the Australian Guineas after previously winning the CS Hayes Stakes, illustrating what an important pointer that one is.

This year’s CS Hayes was won by Tassie star The Inevitable on February 16 and that earned him a place at the Australian Guineas. “He’s a tiny little horse – probably just 14.3 hands – but he’s got the talent there, as he showed today, and it’s a big buzz to be part of it,” said jockey Sigrid Carr, who will continue her partnership with him at Flemington on March 2 after securing the biggest win of her career. Trainer Scott Brunton called his diminutive galloper “a ripper” and praised his turn of foot. “As long as he does everything right and he is happy and well we will head towards the Australian Guineas,” he added.

Yet, The Inevitable will have to be at his very best if he is to continue his winning streak at Flemington, as the Australian Guineas attracts an extremely strong field. Anyone looking at the odds at Punters will see that he is not among the early favourites to win this race. Mystic Journey is the outright favourite, while Amphitrite, Ringerdingding and Hawkshot all currently command pretty low prices.

Mystic Journey is another Tassie runner and also a filly, so she will have to buck the trend if she is to triumph in this race. She is saddled by top trainer Adam Trinder and she has won eight of her last 11 races, while earnings have already gone past the $400,000 mark. She has secured eye-catching wins at Mowbray and Elwick this season, and Trinder is also hoping she gains a wildcard for next month’s All-Star Mile, where she would be a leading contender.

Mick Price is always a trainer to keep an eye on at the Australian Guineas as he has picked up three victories here. He prepared back-to-back winners in 2008 and 2009 as Light Fantastic and Heart of Dreams triumphed, and he then saddled Grunt last year. Grunt is now among the leading contenders for the All-Star Mile, showing that the Australian Guineas yields superstars of the future. Amphitrite will also be heading to the All-Star Mile and this former Darren Weir-trained filly will bid to go there on a high by winning the Australian Guineas first.

Fillies have struggled to make an impact in this race in recent years, so it might be worth taking a look at third favourite Hawkshot, another transferee from disqualified trainer Weir. He was explosive in surging to victory in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes at Caulfield earlier this month, relaxing beautifully after taking the lead. “He came to us looking a million dollars and he ran very well and on that he looks a genuine chance in the Guineas,” said co-trainer Ben Hayes. Plenty of big name horses have departed the Weir stables after the electric shock scandal, and Ringerdingding is another bidding for glory in the Australian Guineas. The colt is now trained by Chris Waller and he could really make a splash here after dazzling in the Group 2 Sandown Guineas in November.

Victorian gallopers have dominated the race in recent years, while favourites also have a pretty strong record here. Twelve favourites have won the race since it was inaugurated in 1986, while five have finished second and two finished third. Hey Doc was the last favourite to win, landing at $3.50 in 2017. The most successful barriers are 2 and 7, which have each yielded six winners. Barriers 3, 15 and 16 have been unsuccessful over the years.

It is worth noting that the Australian Guineas clashes somewhat with the Randwick Guineas, meaning most Sydney gallopers remain there to contest that race. Yet it still draws a very strong field due to the prestige and the $1 million in prize money, so punters can look forward to a thrilling race on March 2. It will be fascinating to see how Weir’s former runners get on, and whether a filly can finally surge to victory.