The opening day of the Spring Racing Carnival at Caulfield tomorrow – Caulfield Guineas Day – is regarded by many, myself included, as one of the best days on the racing calendar.

There are three Group One races, two at Group Two level, and one at Group Three. Events for three-year-old horses dominate the program and the fields contain plenty of high class thoroughbreds, including a number likely to feature during Melbourne Cup Week.

One of the features of such major days is usually wide betting. But not tomorrow, and that won’t really please the Melbourne Racing Club or the TAB.

The two main events are the Caulfield Guineas, one of the premier events on the Australian racing calendar, and the Yalumba Stakes. The Guineas carries total prizemoney of $1 million.

But both events are going to have very short price favourites – at least short price for a Group One race. In the Yalumba, El Segundo is definitely going to be odds on, and that will turn punters away.

And even in the Caulfield Guineas, there is every chance the brilliant three-year-old Court Command will be even money at best. And while he has won four of his five starts, it’s worth noting that will be his first run at the Melbourne anti-clockwise style of racing. And his first start at 1,600 metres!

Last weekend Racing to Win was the shortest price winner of the AJC Epsom in its long history and now Caulfield’s major races could suffer the same fate. The problem with odds-on favourites in major races is that TAB turnover drops sharply. With race club revenue tied to TAB turnover, a spate of odds-on runners in major events is not good news.

But Caulfield remains a strong form guide to the Flemington racing to come, and there’s always the entertainment of watching the Herald Sun try to pretend a race day sponsored by rival newspaper The Age doesn’t exist.

Peter Fray

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