Premier Melbourne jockey Craig Williams is after bragging rights in the Australian Guineas, a race he says has a state of origin feel about it.
Runners representing Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and New Zealand line up in the Group One race over 1600m at Flemington on Saturday.
Williams rides the Ken Keys-trained Soul Patch, one of four Victorian-trained runners, joining Alabama Express, Chenier and Commodus to take on Alligator Blood (Qld), Dalasan (SA), Superstorm (WA) and Catalyst (NZ).
Soul Patch is coming off a closing fourth behind Alligator Blood, Catalyst and Chenier in the C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 15.
Williams said there were seven excellent chances as he chases a third Guineas win having scored on Miss Finland (2007) and Shamus Award (2014).
“It’s a great race and great for racing,” Williams said.
“I love the fact that it’s a bit of a state of origin with Queensland, Adelaide, Perth and of course Melbourne plus you throw in New Zealand, it’s fantastic.
“It’s going to be quite tactical which will be a disadvantage for my horse but I like the fact that they get out to the mile and it might pay dividends for him, especially with that run under the belt.”
Soul Patch will race without blinkers on Saturday after Williams and Keys concluded the headgear was not having the desired result.
Blinkers were originally applied to help Soul Patch leave the barriers and take up a forward position.
“He was trying to be too competitive through the whole race, rather just at the end of the race,” Williams said.
“He’s come up with a favourable draw, so he’s going to get every possible chance from there after his first-up run when he closed off nicely.
“Alligator Blood and Catalyst were much fitter than my horse the other day and the way the race was run it was more favourable for them than where I was.
“I’m not saying I’m going to overhaul them but going into the race I’m confident I will give it a shake.”