A star-studded final field of eight sprinters have been accepted for the 2011 Manikato Stakes, race favourite the Peter Snowden-trained hero Sepoy to have the inside running from barrier one in Friday’s nights showdown at Moonee Valley.
Elusive Quality colt Sepoy will take on the older horses for the first time in the $500,000 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), the three-year-old installed as the odds-on favourite.
Sitting at the top of the Manikato Stakes 2011 odds at Luxbet at a quote of $1.90, Sepoy is undefeated this season coming off comfortable back-to-back wins in the Vain Stakes and Danehill Stakes.
The Darley-owned champion is already a dual Group 1 winner thanks to their juvenile victories in the Blue Diamond Stakes and Golden Slipper, Sepoy the first two-year-old to win both races in a single season for 22 years, and is ideally weighted dropping back from 58kg last start to just 52kg in the weight-for-age Manikato, to add a third elite level to their impressive record.
Snowden believes Sepoy is one of the best he’s trained, and although he rates the horse as a special galloper, isn’t going into the Manikato Stakes clash with a complacent attitude.
“He’s just got that X-factor about him,” Snowden said.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge, but believe me it is a challenge.”
Waiting for Sepoy on Friday night are seven very worthy and dangerous rivals, most notably the Gai Watehouse-trained More Joyous.
Drawn ideally in barrier four and due to be ridden by Nash Rawiller, glamour More Than Ready mare More Joyous resumes racing after an injury-enforced spell that started following her unplaced run in the Doncaster Mile last April at Randwick.
She goes for her sixth Group 1 win in the Manikato Stakes and has had plenty of early support in the betting markets at Luxbet, More Joyous in from her opening odds of $3 into $2.80.
Waterhouse is confident that More Joyous will be back to Group 1 form on Friday night, and although wary of the ability Sepoy possess, believes it will be experience and determination that gets her mare to the line first.
“I’m hoping that her age and maturity and experience will carry her,” Waterhosue said.
The Manikato Stakes odds reflect a two-horse affair this year, with no other runners at single-figure prices.
Atomic Force is the next best fancied in the markets, Darren Smith’s Group 1 The Galaxy winner paying $12 to upset the favourites through Luxbet.
Drawn wider in gate seven the Danehill Dancer six-year-old comes off good form this season including their devastatingly close last-start third, beaten a mere nose, to Queensland raider Buffering in the Group 3 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at the Moonee Valley track on September 10.
McEwen Stakes winner Buffering, prepared by premier Brisbane horseman Rob Heathcote, has also been accepted into the 2011 Manikato Stakes field.
Paying a very generous $19 in the Luxbet odds, Mossman four-year-old Buffering races at Moonee Valley for just the second time but showed a liking for the track with their first-up McEwen win.
In the McEwen Buffering jumped from barrier eight of nine and on Friday night they will advantage from a more inside gate three draw.
Ahead of Buffering in the Manikato markets is the classy Peter Moody-trained mare Kulgrinda, an easing chance in the Luxbet odds out from $13 to $15 after coming up with the far outside gate eight.
A four-year-old daughter of Exceed And Excel, Kulgrinda was impressive when winning the Listed Printhouse Graphics Stakes (1000m) at the Valley by two and a half lengths on August 20 before her unlucky fourth to Buffering in the McEwen Stakes.
Rounding out the Manikato Stakes 2011 field and odds are John Sadler’s last-start How Now Stakes winner Sister Madly ($13), former Hong Kong sprinter Happy Zero ($19) drawn one outside the favourite in barrier two and the $81 outsider in the race Darren Weir’s Ballarat-based mare Rue Maple.
See below for the complete Sportingbet Manikato Stakes field, barriers, jockeys and weights.
Our preferred online bookmaker Luxbet already has exclusive markets open on the race so visit them now to lock in your early selections.
2011 Manikato Stakes Field, Barriers & Weights
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rtg.|
|1||12X31330X6||HAPPY ZERO||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Darren Beadman||2||58.5kg||114|
|2||24X13744X1||BUFFERING||Robert Heathcote||Damian Browne||3||58.5kg||109|
|3||114122X313||ATOMIC FORCE||Darren Smith||Damien Oliver||7||58.5kg||109|
|4||115X11110X||MORE JOYOUS (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||4||56.5kg||122|
|5||X340X1X0X1||SISTER MADLY||John Sadler||Craig Williams||5||56.5kg||105|
|6||X272322262||RUE MAPLE||Darren Weir||Ms Michelle Payne||6||56.5kg||90|
|7||1124X114||KULGRINDA||Peter G Moody||Luke Nolen||8||56.5kg||99|
|8||1X11121X11||SEPOY||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||1||52kg||111|