Hey Doc remains a clear favourite for the 2017 Australian Guineas with the last start C S Hayes Stakes winner drawing an inside barrier for the Group One race at Flemington.
The Tony McEvoy-trained Hey Doc has barrier two in a capacity field of 16 plus three emergencies for Saturday’s 1600m race and will jump from the inside gate should third reserve Hardham not gain a start.
His jockey Luke Currie said his confidence had been boosted after the barrier draw.
“I’m happy with that,” Currie said.
“Obviously he needs a little bit of luck to get in the clear but I’d rather that than draw 16 and be three and four-wide the trip.
“He definitely needs cover, but it will give him a chance to just relax over the mile and gives him his best chance to be strong at the finish.”
Hey Doc was a close third in the Caulfield Guineas during the spring and raced into2017 Australian Guineas favouritism with a 1-1/2 length win in the C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 18.
After the draw he went from $4 to $3.60 with Luxbet.com fixed odds.
Divine Prophet is next at $8 and will be out to claim the Caulfield Guineas-Australian Guineas double while the Robert Smerdon-trained Theanswermyfriend, the first emergency, is at $9.50.
Victoria Derby winner Prized Icon is one of three dual acceptors for the Australian Guineas and Randwick Guineas, run on the same day in different states, along with Land Of Plenty and Hardham.
Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Brett Prebble won the Guineas two years ago on Wandjina and rides the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained colt Attention who is backing up after his fourth in the weight-for-age Group One Futurity Stakes last Saturday.
Sandown Guineas winner Morton’s Fork has finished fifth in the Manfred Stakes and fourth in the C S Hayes this preparation and trainer John O’Shea says he has been set for the Guineas.
He has the widest barrier although O’Shea doesn’t see that as a problem.
“It was a nice run last start where he got cluttered up,” O’Shea said.
“It is an advantage for him to draw out, he loves a bit of galloping room.
“He’s fit and right at the top of his game and there’s no reason he can’t be right in the finish.”
Legless Veuve, Fuhryk and Harlow Gold are taking on the males, with Mosheen the most recent filly to win the Guineas in 2012.