Ron Leemon’s untapped three-year-old Manawanui showed they were ready to live up to their title, Manawanui being Maori for bold and courageous, when they return to race conditions in the Up & Coming Stakes on Saturday after blitzing their rivals in a trial on Monday.
Prepared by Leemon at Warwick Farm, Oratorio gelding Manawanui has to date won two of their three career starts and will be out for their hat-trick of turf triumphs when they make their new season debut at their home track in the $125,000 Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes (1300m) on Saturday.
The hottest odds on Manawanui and all the other Warwick Farm contenders this weekend will be found at Luxbet, who offer ‘Best of the Best’ markets on all the Saturday metro meets.
Yesterday Manawanui gave Leemon an encouraging sign that they could go all the way to the top this prep when they scored a commanding 10 length trial win over 1030 metres at Rosehill, ace hoop Glyn Schofield in the mount.
Among the horses Manawanui defeated in the trial were dual Stradbroke Handicap winner Black Piranha and Chris Waller’s star import, Group 1 winner My Kingdom Of Fife.
“He was up against a lot of staying horses (so) there was no speed in the trial,” Leemon said, hesitant to get too excited by the large-margin win.
“The plan all along was to use the trial as his final serious galloper before Saturday’s race.
“I’ll see how he comes through it over the next couple of days but at this stage it’s 90 per cent certain he’ll run (in the Up & Coming Stakes).”
Leemon has held a high opinion of the very promising Manawanui right from the get go when they ran a game third behind Do You Think in a Canterbury 2YO Maiden back in March.
From there Manawanui posted back-to-back wins at Canterbury, most recently beating Peter Snowden’s Free Wheeling in the Barcardi Handicap (1250m) on May 7.
“I have had an opinion of him from day one and I think he has a good future,” Leemon said.
“The good thing about this horse is he relaxes so it does not matter if he is forward or back, he just switches off.”
On Saturday they step up to 1300 metres and stakes company for the first time, Leemon looking for another good showing after indicating the 2011 Spring Champion Stakes was the ultimate spring aim for Manawanui.
The $400,000 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) runs at Royal Randwick on October 1 during the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival on Epsom Handicap Day.
There is also a chance that Manawanui will be taken to Melbourne for a shot at the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 8, Leemon having nominated the youngster for the feature last month.
“I’m taking a very flexible approach with him,” Leemon said.
“There are a couple of programs for him but I haven’t worked out if he is a sprinter-miler or a 2000-metre plus horse yet.”
Current Caulfield Guineas 2011 odds on Manawanui to upset the likes of co-favourites Smart Missile and Helmet are $31.
There were 11 three-year-olds nominated for the 2011 Up & Coming Stakes including multiple Group 1 placegetter and early Thousand Guineas favourite Pane In The Glass, Peter Snowden’s undefeated filly Detours, David Payne’s well-tried colt Queenian, and improving Encosta De Lago filly Houston Benefactor.
The Up And Coming Stakes 2011 final field and barriers will be released tomorrow, with odds on the feature to open at Luxbet soon after.