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Artie the three-year-old headliner, but Seaburge looking to steal his thunder

Flying Artie, the favourite for the Black Caviar Lightning,  is the highest-rated three-year-old in action at Flemington on Saturday with a rating of 110.

The Mick Price-trained speedster – the type of colt most favoured by n breeders – has already been sold for a huge sum to Newgate Farm stud, a deal inked after he had shown his class by winning the group 1 Coolmore Stakes down the Flemington straight during the Melbourne Cup carnival.

But will the son of Artie Schiller eventually turn out to be the best of his generation on display at headquarters on a day when many punters will be looking for clues for the big autumn races  to come in Melbourne and Sydney?

Certainly if he is kept in training and goes on to contest the top open-age sprints next year and even wins the inaugural running of The Everest he probably will be.

But one of the beauties of racing is that we don’t really know how good a horse is until it reaches four or five, probably its peak years.

Many champions have been retired to stud at the end of their three-year-old career and experts have speculated how good they might have been – but there is no way we can know for sure.

There are a handful of other colts racing at Flemington on Saturday who are rated close to Flying Artie in ability and their connections will be hoping that even if they can’t yet nail such a lucrative stud deal they may eventually prove to be the best of a talented crop of three year olds on the track.

David Hayes saddles up one of those in the C.S. Hayes Stakes, the race named for his father, the legendary trainer Colin, as he chases what would be a sentimental triumph for the stable.

Seaburge is the horse  and although a very different type to Flying Artie – he is better suited over 1600 metres and middle distances – the son of Sebring is only at this stage rated three points below the leading sprinter on 107: that equates to 1.5 kilograms in a handicap, or about one length over sprint distances, a bit more over longer trips.

In fact the Hayes Stakes is full of highly promising types who could, if they make sufficient improvement from three to four, become the bedrock of the weight-for-age division in future seasons.

Seaburge, to be ridden by  Mark Zahra, has already proven capable of competing with his elders (something Flying Artie has to do for the first time on Saturday) by finishing a close-up second in the $2 million Mackinnon Stakes behind Awesome Rock at Flemington last spring. Just a week before that he had got to within 2.8 lengths of Le Romain when he took on the seasoned group 1 handicappers in the Cantala Stakes on Derby day.

Hayes was certainly sounding confident earlier in the week about the colt’s chances.

“He’s reminding me more and more of Criterion (the horse he trained to win at group 1 level and finish second in a Cox Plate and third in a Melbourne Cup in 2015)  in the look and style of horse ,” Hayes said.

“He’s got really good form being a runner-up in the Caulfield Guineas and runner-up in the Mackinnon. I think he’s in for a big campaign.”

Hey Doc, a 100-rated gelding from the Tony McEvoy stable (who was third in the Caulfield Guineas when Seaburge was second) will also be a strong form yardstick for this race, as will Sandown Guineas winner  Morton’s Fork, who shaped well when fifth first-up in the Manfred Stakes at Caulfield  early this month.

Flying Artie holds the call right now, and if he beats the older horses, his rating will skyrocket: but Seaburge and those others are all looking to make statements of their own this autumn too, beginning at Flemington.

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