Stars Of Carrum (left) winning last year's Vase at The Valley (Image: Racing Photos)
It's been a while since Robbie Laing last won a Guineas at Group 1 level.
Three years into his training career, Laing, then aged 24, claimed the first of his five Group 1 victories by winning the 1983 Thousand Guineas (1600m) with Perfect Bliss.
The filly was barely 15 hands but managed to defeat her 13 rivals, ploughing through the rain-affected conditions to win as a $5.50 chance in a time of 1:45.1.
Laing's four subsequent Group 1 winners have been over 2000 metres or further, including the Derby victories of Pantani (2003 SA Derby) and Polanski (2013 VRC Derby).
And with Lexus Melbourne Cup winners on either side of Stars Of Carrum's pedigree, you could be forgiven for believing the son of Fiorente has the wrong profile for a horse capable of winning this Saturday's $1 million Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington.
But Laing is cautioning punters against overlooking this season's G1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) runner-up in the Guineas.
Stars Of Carrum caught the eye in the G3 C.S. Hayes Stakes (1400m) when finishing ninth, beaten three-and-a-half lengths after going to the line untested in the straight behind a wall of horses as a $91 chance.
"We knew he'd run well in the C.S. Hayes, we thought he was a top-three or top-four chance," Laing said.
"They ran 1:21.99 for the 1400 metres and as Ben Melham said when he came back in, they've run quick time and he's gone to the line under a tight hold.
"Six months ago 1600 metres would have been definitely too short for him - he's improved so much since then and that was virtually his first campaign. He had a nice spell over the spring.
"One horse we've used as a galloping partner with him, Thorondor (G2 Danehill Stakes runner-up), it had six lengths on him in the spring.
"They ran a sharp 800 metres in trackwork on Tuesday morning and there wasn't an inch between them - that's how much he's improved with his speed.
"He has furnished and if he gets a good run in the race and gets into the clear - look out!"
Laing nominates fillies Mystic Journey and Amphitrite as well as C.S. Hayes Stakes winner The Inevitable as key dangers in the Guineas.
"There's plenty of chances in the race," Laing said. "The good thing is there's 16 runners so there should be good pace in it and if they go helter skelter then the horses with stamina will come into their own."
Stars Of Carrum still holds an entry for the TAB Australian Cup on March 9 and could back-up in that 2000-metre weight-for-age race - which Laing won with Roman Arch in 2006 - should he perform well in the Guineas and the Cup field appear weakened by the $5 million All-Star Mile on March 16.
"The two races that look like really suiting him are the Rosehill Guineas and Australian Derby," Laing said.
The $600,000 G1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) will be held on Saturday, March 23 while the $2m G1 Australian Derby (2400m) will be held a fortnight later at Randwick.