Celebrating Avondale Cup & Guineas Day | A deep dive into the Guineas vs the Derby

14 Feb 2023
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

Is it really the form setter we proclaim it to be?

With Eagle Technology Avondale Cup Day nearly upon us and the Derby in our sights, we took a deep dive into the results from this day and their role as predictors of the outcome for the big races coming up in March; the Trackside New Zealand Derby and the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup.

Let’s first take a look at the Guineas’ role in forecasting the $1million Trackside New Zealand Derby winner…

With Ellerslie under construction in 2023, Pukekohe Park and Te Rapa stepped up to the plate and hosted the Avondale Guineas and ATR New Zealand Derby races respectively.  The Group 2 feature was won by Desert Lightning with the $1m Derby won by Sharp ‘n’ Smart.  Whilst Desert Lightning couldn’t back up his Guineas success with million-dollar race win at the time, he came out flying in the recent $1m Elsdon Park Aotearoa Classic at Ellerslie’s official return to racing, the TAB Karaka Millions, toppling race favourite, Legarto.

In 2022, the AJC Avondale Guineas was won in convincing fashion by La Crique which sent her into Derby favouritism immediately after the race. She put in a gallant effort in the million-dollar feature but had to settle for second to Asterix who came from near last to provide trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott with their second consecutive victory.

Asterix and Jonathan Parkes claiming the 2022 Vodafone New Zealand Derby


In 2021, the Avondale Guineas was convincingly won by Rocket Spade putting him into Derby favouritism and boy, did he not disappoint, producing a last to first performance in the $1million race that had co-trainer Andrew Scott in tears.

Andrew Scott and Rocket Spade after his Derby win in what was an unusual running with the day held ‘behind closed doors’ due to COVID-19 restrictions


The 2020 running of the Guineas saw Dragon Leap (also trained by the O’Sullivan/Scott partnership) triumph in the Group 2 race with eventual Vodafone New Zealand Derby winner, Sherwood Forest, placing third. In the lead up to the Vodafone New Zealand Derby all eyes were on Dragon Leap and Two Illicit, however Sherwood Forest surprised all when he produced an impressive performance to take the win in what was the fastest Derby since 1998.

Sherwood Forest in action


2019 was another upset year with Surely Sacred, the winner of the Avondale Guineas, tipped for Derby glory. It wasn’t to be however with Crown Prosecutor – paying $105.40 for the win! – causing a major upset when triumphing for second generation Derby winning trainer, Stephen Marsh (his father Bruce trained the 2000 winner, Hail).


The 2018 Guineas saw a very close finish with the Herald reporting that any of the top 5 could take out the Derby and take it out they did with Vin De Dance (third in the Guineas) pulling off the $1million win.

Vin De Dance coming back to scale


2017’s races make for familiar reading with racing poster boy, Gingernuts, taking out both features in what has been a very well documented career. Gingernuts has often returned to the scene of his first Group 1 win here at Ellerslie to lead out the Derby field and in 2021 had the Listed Salver named after him, more here.

Gingernuts returning to the birdcage after leading out the Derby field


2016 and 2015 went the way of 2017 too with the Avondale Guineas winners (Rangipo and Mongolian Khan respectively) taking out the Derby, further cementing the Guineas reputation as the main pathway to $1million glory!

Our recommendation? Keep a close eye on the winner of the Group 2 Eagle Technology Avondale Guineas, taking place at Ellerslie on Saturday 17 February, you could very well be watching the Group 1 Trackside New Zealand Derby winner in action.

Related articles

Major Partners