Embellish (Image: Race Images)
Stephen Autridge doesn't have fond memories of the last horse he brought to Melbourne for the Australian Guineas, but he is hopeful of creating some better ones over the next few weeks.
On Monday the Kiwi trainer landed in Melbourne from New Zealand, joining his classy colt Embellish, who arrived 24 hours earlier.
The three-year-old son of Savabeel is in Melbourne to tackle the $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m), the race Xtravagant started $2.70 favourite in two years ago, when he could manage only a four-and-a-half-length eighth in the race won by Palentino.
Although a winner of the 2000 Guineas at Group 1 level last November, Embellish does not have quite the profile Xtravagant did before he crossed the Tasman, but Autridge said he was a comparable galloper.
"He (Xtravagant) was a bit more highly-strung and a harder horse to handle and nothing really went right with him (in Melbourne)," Autridge said.
"This horse has won three from six and his record is pretty good. He's as good a horse (as Xtravagant) anyway.
"He's the sort of horse that would train on and probably even mature a little bit more ... he's probably good enough to be a weight-for-age horse next year."
Unlike Xtravagant, who made his Australian debut in the Guineas, Embellish will have a lead up run in Saturday's $150,000 Group 3 C.S. Hayes Stakes.
Autridge expects that 1400-metre event, which will be his first start since the NZ$1 million Karaka Classic (1600m) on January 27, to paint a clear picture of his Guineas chances.
"The 1400 might be a touch too short but we'll be able to ride him a little bit quietly and he's got the length of the straight to find the line, which he will do," he said.
"After that we'll know where we are."
Embellish is a $17 chance in the Australian Guineas market, which is headed by Cliff's Edge at $5.