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Archie's double Guineas shot

5 min read
A third of Archie Alexander's yearling purchases from last year will be in action in the G1 features at Caulfield. It's been a challenging year for the Ballarat trainer, however his spring is ready to lift.

Archie Alexander bought just six yearlings in 2017, but remarkably two of those will be in action in Group 1 races on Saturday with Saccharo (Magnus) contesting the Caulfield Guineas and Mirette (Unencumbered) the Thousand Guineas.

The achievement is all the more monumental when you consider Alexander's Ballarat stables were placed under quarantine last month for three weeks after an outbreak of strangles which threatened to derail the entire stable's spring preparations.

"When you consider 3-4 weeks ago, we probably weren’t going anywhere. To turn that around in a couple of weeks and have two runners in Group 1s is really good." - Archie Alexander on the stable's strangles outbreak

Alexander joins Australia's two premier trainers Chris Waller and Darren Weir as well as Mick Price, Tony McEvoy, Lindsay Park and Kris Lees in having runners in each of Saturday's 3-year-old features. That's no small feat, given the numbers he has at his disposal.

"I know it's important to run well, but just to get a horse in the Guineas in great. There's a lot of horses out there and only 15 or 16 make the field, so to just get them there is great for a stable our size," Alexander told TDN AusNZ.

"We only bought six yearlings last year and two of them are in the Guineas, that's 33 per cent. Other big stables have 100-150 yearlings, so we’re very happy, when you consider 3-4 weeks ago, we probably weren’t going anywhere. To turn that around in a couple of weeks and have two runners in Group 1s is really good."

But Alexander insists that his two runners are far from there to make up the numbers and while they haven’t been dealt any favours by the barrier draw - Saccharo has 12 and Mirette 15 - can make their presence felt against the best colts and fillies in the land.

"It's great to get there, but now we need them to run very well. We're not just running them for a day out. We'd like them to do really well. The barriers haven't helped us, there is not much we can do with that," he said.

"They are in really good form. They are progressive horses who are not fully exposed."

Saccharo money well spent

Saccharo is Alexander's most expensive-ever yearling purchase, bought for $155,000 at the 2017 Melbourne Premier Sale from Sun Stud.

He is out of Zaraya Rose (Hawk Wing {USA}), a winner herself up to 2100m, whose first filly, Sunstryke (Stryker) was a 2000m winner. With that in mind, Alexander is confident that the step to 1600m will suit the colt.

Saccharo is the most expensive yearling Archie Alexander has ever purchased, at $155,000

"We don’t know if he's good enough, but we know he’ll stay the trip," he said. "He was a very good-looking horse when we bought him and still is. He's quite chunky, He's got a lovely nature."

"Magnus is a good stallion and for us, we are only a small stable, it’s the most expensive horse we’ve ever bought. $155,000 for most big stables would just be a normal horse. He's always been a good looker and has a good nature to go with it."

"He was a very good-looking horse when we bought him and still is. He's quite chunky, he's got a lovely nature." - Archie Alexander

The Caufield Guineas will just be Saccharo's fifth start. His form holds up strongly through his second behind fellow Guineas runner Tavisan (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}) back in July and his second to Thousand Guineas aspirant Amphitrite (Sebring) at Flemington last start, when he was just five days out of quarantine.

Prior to his confinement, Saccharo broke his maiden at Sale.

Mirette form franked head of G1 tilt

The form around Mirette heading into the Thousand Guineas is even stronger. She broke her maiden last start at Benalla by 4.5l, beating the Weir-trained Junipal (Reset), the half-brother to Palentino who came out on Tuesday and won by ten lengths.

"I know it was only a Donald maiden, but the horse that ran second to her won by ten lengths. That's a good sign," Alexander said.

"Before that's she's got good form. She was just beaten by Vassilator (Zacinto {GB}) last prep and he runs in the Guineas. She was unlucky not to win at Sandown. She looks progressive and at the mile, it looks like she’ll get that really well."

Mirette winning at Benalla

Mirette has required considerable patience from Alexander since she was bought for $75,000 at last year's Magic Millions.

Out of unraced Zabeel mare, Lady Zabeel (NZ), Alexander always knew she would stretch out in distance but had to ensure she had the right mentality to develop her talent.

"It took a bit of time to get her head right and get her to relax and do everything well. Now she's pretty easy and she's very honest and clearly gives her best. I'm sure she’ll give her best on Saturday," he said.

Mirette was a $75,000 Magic Millions purchase

Oaks shot on hold

The filly holds a nomination for the G1 Kennedy Oaks, but Alexander is leaning towards giving her some time to further grow and develop after Saturday's race.

"I would say we wouldn’t be going to the Oaks this time around, maybe in the autumn," he said.

"She's a filly that doesn't need a lot of racing. She's quite fragile mentally, and it’s going to be a big day for her on the weekend. We'll see, but she'll probably go to the paddock after this."

Alexander will also have lightly raced 4-year-old mare Petrelle (Fastnet Rock) in action on Saturday. Unbeaten in two starts, she is currently third emergency in the Group 3 Cape Grim Beef Steaks at Caulfield and is also in the Listed Durbridge S, in Adelaide.