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After a black-type win at Caulfield Racecourse on Wednesday co-trainer David Hayes named the Manikato Stakes 2015 at Moonee Valley Friday week as a likely Group 1 aim for the five-year-old.
On Blue Sapphire Stakes Day, the Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Fastnet Rock gelding enjoyed his first win since mid-November last year in the Group 3 Heffernan Stakes (1300m) when beating home The Quarterback by a tidy two and a quarter lengths in the Listed italktravel Stakes (1200m).
The pace was on in the sprint showdown, and jockey Michael Walker allowed Fast ‘N’ Rocking to settle off the speed before flying home late for the impressive victory that took the winner’s record up to five wins from 32 starts for $965,500 in prize money.
Fast ‘N’ Rocking is no stranger to Group 1 racing having contested nine elite level features for two top three placings, the most recent of those being his third to Shamal Wind in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield in late February during the autumn.
This time in he raced in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) on September 26 before his mid-week win in the italktravel Stakes, where he ran a credible seventh to Stratum Star beaten only one and three-quarter lengths.
Now Hayes is hoping he can improve again as he heads into the $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) over more distance under the lights at weight-for-age at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Cox Plate eve, Friday October 23.
“When Michael got off him in the Sir Rupert Clarke … he said ‘I think he’s a 1200m, high-pressure horse that can charge home’ and I think Michael summed it up well,” Hayes told Racing Victoria.
“He’s in the Manikato, if it looks a high-pressure Manikato we might run him, sit him back and see if he can run on.
“But he’s hopeless up the straight, so we might go to Sandown instead (of Flemington after that).”
There are still 24 sprinters among the Manikato Stakes entries this year and in the all-in odds at Ladbrokes.com.au the hot favourite is Chautauqua ($2.30), the Team Hawkes-trained champion undefeated this time in with wins in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at the Valley and Flemington’s Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) on October 4.
Also high up the futures Manikato Stakes odds are the likes of the flying John O’Shea-trained Golden Rose winning colt Exosphere ($4.40), Ciaron Maher’s Stradbroke Handicap – Tattersall’s Tiara winning mare Srikandi ($4.40) and the Joe Pride-trained six-year-old Terravista ($6) who won the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) first-up in Sydney.
Fast ‘N’ Rocking meanwhile is listed as a $34 outsider in Manikato Stakes betting as Hayes chases his first win in the classic.
Other notable Manikato Stakes-bound hopefuls include the defending champion Lankan Rupee last seen running third to Alpha Miss in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) in a disappointing run as the beaten odds-on favourite and 2013 winner Buffering coming off a Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) win at the track as an eight-year-old.
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