Casper Fowne’s talented Hong Kong sprinter Lucky Nine is the headline Manikato Stakes 2013 nominee for next month’s Moonee Valley classic, the five-time Group 1 winner touching down in Melbourne today.
Held on the Friday evening before Cox Plate Day, the $1 million Group 1 Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) runs under the lights on October 25 and has this year attracted 43 hopefuls at nomination stage.
The top-rated nominee is international raider Lucky Nine, the Dubawi six-year-old last seen winning the Group 1 International Sprint (1200m) in Singapore on May 19.
Ridden by expat Aussie hoop Brett Prebble the star gelding is considered one of the world’s best sprinters and arrived in Melbourne this morning ready for their first prep down under.
They touched down at Tullamarine around 11am (AEST) without a hitch and will now go into quarantine at Werribee.
“Everything has gone well. He was on a nine-hour direct flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne and all of his vital signs are good,” Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Jordon told the Herald Sun.
Lucky Nine is set to make a two-start assault while here also nominated for the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 9.
The Emirates Stakes Day feature attracted a similar list of nominees today with 60 early entries.
The presence of Lucky Nine at the Melbourne Cup Carnival this year marks two decades since the first internationally-trained horse won the Melbourne Cup with Vintage Crop reigning supreme in 1993.
“It brings in a great new chapter for the international participation in the Carnival not just from the perspective that this horse is from Hong Kong but also that we are now also attracting world class sprinters to Melbourne,” Jordon said.
“The staff travelling with Lucky Nine are also very pleased with the A1 facility here at Werribee so it has all started well so far.”
Bel Sprinter meanwhile will get their chance to turn the tables on Lucky Nine after running three lengths away second to them in the International Sprint at Kranji in their maiden run overseas.
Jason Warren’s Mornington-based Bel Esprit six-year-old was a disappointing seventh in the Manikato last year but has proved an international performing star since then.
They also won a Group 1 at home first-up in March putting three and a half lengths on Snitzerland in The Galaxy over 1100m at Rosehill.
Another highly rated Manikato Stakes nominee that ran in last year’s edition is the Rob Heathcote-trained Buffering.
Buffering finished sixth as the beaten $2.60 favourite last spring and is set to resume racing in this Friday night’s $450,000 Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
The Moir will be his 17th Group 1 assignment, the star sprinter looking to finally break into the big time after posting nine Group 1 minor placings but no elite level wins.
John O’Shea meanwhile will be vying for back-to-back Manikato Stakes trophies this year with his stakes winning mare Steps In Time following his success with Sea Siren 12 months ago.
Some of the other ace male sprinters out for an upset Manikato Stakes result aside from Bel Sprinter and Buffering include the Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane, Peter Snowden’s Doomben 10,000 champion Epaulette and Peter Moody’s last start McEwen runner-up Moment Of Change.
As for the top females watch out for Darren Weir’s Robert Sangster Stakes – The Goodwood double winner Platelet, last year’s Blue Diamond champ Samaready who returned to racing with a Caulfield win last month, Chris Waller’s Tattersall’s Tiara winner Red Tracer and the Gerald Ryan-trained Snitzerland.
There are also some quality three-year-olds looking to get the better of the older horses here including Chris Waller’s Golden Rose winner Zoustar.
The Manikato Stakes 2013 picture will be made clearer at first acceptance stage on October 8.
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2013 Manikato Stakes Nominations
Moonee Valley Racecourse – 25/10/2013
|1||ADAMANTIUM (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||100|
|4||BEL SPRINTER||Jason Warren||110|
|6||BETTER THAN READY||Kelly Schweida||101|
|10||DIAMOND EARTH||Anthony Cummings||–|
|12||FAST ’N’ ROCKING||David Hayes||90|
|13||FAT AL||Peter G Moody||104|
|16||GENERAL TRUCE||Ricky Maund||105|
|18||GRIFFON||John P Thompson||96|
|19||HIDDEN WARRIOR||Paul Perry||–|
|20||IT IS WRITTEN||Robbie Griffiths||95|
|21||LE BONSIR||Mick Price||99|
|23||LUCKY NINE (IRE)||Caspar Fownes||118|
|24||MOMENT OF CHANGE||Peter G Moody||108|
|25||PAGO ROCK||David Hayes||103|
|26||PERON||John P Thompson||96|
|30||REBEL DANE||Gary Portelli||105|
|31||RED TRACER||Chris Waller||112|
|32||REFLECTANCE||John P Thompson||76|
|35||SHAMAL WIND||Robert Smerdon||96|
|36||SHAMEXPRESS (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||107|
|39||STEPS IN TIME||John O’Shea||106|
|40||THE PEAK||Bart & James Cummings||93|
|41||TIGER TEES (NZ)||Joseph Pride||102|