2014 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes Target for Manawanui

Ron Leemon’s former start three-year-old Manawanui is gearing up for a long awaited return to racing with the galloper to be aimed at the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes 2014 in Melbourne at the end of September.

Manawanui

Former Golden Rose winner Manawanui is two weeks out from a trial ahead of the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes 2014. Photo: Taron Clarke.

A son of Oratorio the rising six-year-old hasn’t raced since their failed eighth in the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield last October.

The gelding injured their hamstring during that run and also pulled up with heart arrhythmia which bought to an end their spring campaign and devastated Leemon.

“He was making a run into the race, working into second spot, before he pulled his hamstring, which then caused his heart arrhythmia. We would have probably run top-three in that race,” Leemon told Racing Network this week.

Leemon has taken his time with the $1.36 million earner and hopes to have them back fighting fit for a big Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival this season, early odds for which are already open at Ladbrokes.com.au.

Back in 2011 Manawanui was one of the year’s premier three-year-olds winning six of their opening nine career starts.

Included in those victories was the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in September.

They also ran in Melbourne that spring debuting in Victoria with a close second behind the Darley-owned Helmet in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).

Manawanui was then stepped up in distance going over 2040m at Moonee Valley for a big win in the Group 2 Vase before their sixth to Sangster in that year’s Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).

Things have been hit-and-miss since then however with the galloper failing to win a race since the Moonee Valley Vase three years ago.

That’s a lengthy drought and one their Warwick Farm-based trainer hopes they can break upon their return.

Leemon ran Manawanui in a 800m trial at their home track in April where they finished a nose away second to Cradle Me and plans to give them another hit-out in about two weeks after they recently commenced fast trackwork again.

“We gave him a trial on April 28 and he finished second alongside Cradle Me over 800 metres at Warwick Farm,” he said.

“He wasn’t extended in the trial and we gave him the hit-out so he could pass his ECG test to stewards’ satisfaction.

“He got very big during his break. I’ve got 20kg off him but he’s a much bigger racehorse now.

“Even though he’s put on a lot of weight, he looks to have got stronger.”

Group 1 options are also already being mapped out, the first of which is the $400,000 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield Racecourse on September 28.

Their performance there in the handicap showdown will then determine where to next.

Leemon hopes it is on towards more Group 1 features including possibly the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, November 1, or the $1 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) back at the track seven days later.

“If he went really well in the Rupert Clarke you could then look at the Emirates Stakes or even the Mackinnon Stakes if he was looking for a bit further,” he said.

“I believe he’s at his best over 1600 to 2000 metres.”

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