Already tipped to open odds-on favourite for the Manikato Stakes 2011 this Friday night, Peter Snowden’s champion three-year-old Sepoy further staked their claims to beat home the older horses at Moonee Valley after trialling superbly at the track on Monday morning.
There were 12 horses nominated for the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) when early entries were taken yesterday, Elusive Quality colt Sepoy the drawcard contender for the twilight showdown.
Having won seven of their eight career starts to date, including two elite level victories in the Blue Diamond Stakes and Golden Slipper, Sepoy will go to the Manikato Stakes field third-up for the season having already taken out the Vain Stakes at Caulfield and the Group 2 Danehill Stakes down the Flemington straight.
Sepoy will be making not only their open-age debut, but also their official Moonee Valley race debut in the Manikato on Friday night.
This hasn’t stopped the bookies including our preferred Luxbet, installing Sepoy as short as $2 in the futures Manikato Stakes betting markets.
Darley’s supremo trainer Snowden is well aware of the improvement Sepoy must make to win the Manikato Stakes and defeat the likes of Gai Waterhouse’s five-time Group 1 winning mare More Joyous, the Peter Moody-trained Kulgrinda, The Galaxy winner Atomic Force and Queensland raider Buffering, but it is a task he believes the hero galloper is up for.
“It looks the best Manikato we’ve had for a while, with some seasoned sprinters at the top of their game, so we need to be better than we’ve been before and I feel he is,” Snowden said.
“We’re taking a gamble because he’s a three-year-old colt with enormous stud value and we’ve thrown him in the deep end, but you don’t do what he’s done and not be confident he’ll run competitively against older horses.
“He’s won a Blue Diamond and a Golden Slipper which tells you the ability that he has.
“I’m not frightened. I think he’s right up to these horses.”
Yesterday Snowden gave Sepoy his second look at the tight Moonee Valley track when the colt worked over 1000 metres with stablemate Bullbars, the duo recording a sharp 23.20 for the final 400 metre sectional.
“He didn’t have a gut-buster, but good enough to keep him up to the mark,” Snowden said.
“It is a track you need to have a bit of a look around.
“He got a feel of where everything is.
“He feels right at home here. Melbourne is really his home. Most of his work has been this way.
“The direction is not a problem, the track isn’t a problem and he seems to like Moonee Valley.”
One thing firmly in Sepoy’s favour for Friday night is the Manikato Stakes weights.
Under the weight-for-age conditions of the sprint showdown Sepoy will carry just 52kg with regular rider Kerrin McEvoy in the mount.
Last start in the Danehill Stakes Sepoy carted a hefty 58kg to victory and before that he had 58.5kg aboard for his impressive two and a half length Vain Stakes success over Golden Archer.
He meets his Manikato Stakes rivals, then, a minimum 4.5kg better in the weights but Snowden is still not discounting the rest of the field and has tipped More Joyous (56.5kg) as the obvious danger.
“She’s a seasoned campaigner and she’s had a lot of work,” Snowden said of the glamour mare.
“I’ve watched her in her work and she’s ticking along really well.
“Gai’s (Gai Waterhouse) got her pretty primed up for a first-up assault.”
View the complete list of 2011 Manikato Stakes nominations, weights and the current ballot order below.
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Manikato Stakes 2011 Ballot & Weights
|1||ATOMIC FORCE||Darren Smith||6||58.5kg||109|
|3||EIGHT BILLS||Gary Portelli||9||58.5kg||92|
|4||HAPPY ZERO||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||2||58.5kg||114|
|5||ANABAA’S LEGACY (NZ)||Dean Binaisse||12||56.5kg||78|
|6||CURTANA||Peter G Moody||7||56.5kg||100|
|7||KULGRINDA||Peter G Moody||10||56.5kg||99|
|8||LADY LYNETTE||David & Scott Brunton||4||56.5kg||106|
|9||MORE JOYOUS (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||3||56.5kg||122|
|10||RUE MAPLE||Darren Weir||11||56.5kg||90|
|11||SISTER MADLY||John Sadler||8||56.5kg||105|