Muraaqeb on target for Australian GuineasSunday 25 February 2018
After two encouraging lead-up runs, three-year-old Muraaqeb will step up to 1600 metres for the first time when he chases a Group One win in the Australian Guineas at Flemington.
The Lindsay Park-trained colt has finished third in both the Group Three Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield and the Group Three C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington ahead of his shot at Saturday's $1 million Australian Guineas.
Lindsay Park senior trainer David Hayes won the Australian Guineas in 2007 with star filly Miss Finland while his late father Colin Hayes won the race three times with Military Plume (1987), King's High (1989) and Zabeel (1990).
Muraaqeb will attempt to give the training partnership of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig its first Guineas.
"His two lead-ups have been excellent," David Hayes said.
"He's probably got to lift a little bit but his second run was better than his first.
"The mile should be perfect."
Muraaqeb closed off well from back in the field in the C S Hayes Stakes to finish 1-3/4 lengths from the winner Grunt, with only fourth-placed Main Stage running slightly quicker sectional times over the final 600m.
Muraaqeb was at $15 on Sunday for the Australian Guineas with the Darren Weir-trained colt Cliff's Edge the $4.50 favourite ahead of Grunt at $5.50.
Cliff's Edge has beaten Muraaqeb home both times this campaign, winning the Manfred before finishing a game second in the C S Hayes.
Along with Cliff's Edge, Weir plans to have Peaceful State in the Guineas if he makes the field.
"They are both in great shape," Weir said.
Weir won the Guineas in 2016 with Palentino.