The flying Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained sprinter Chautauqua is odds-on favourite in the all-in 2015 Manikato Stakes betting markets to continue his ace 1200m form under the lights at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Friday night.
There are still officially 24 horses entered for the $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m), the weight-for-age classic on Cox Plate eve having a field capacity of 14 starters.
Won last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival by the now five-time Group 1 winner Lankan Rupee, the futures Manikato Stakes betting markets for this year’s edition have Encosta De Lago five-year-old Chautauqua as the $1.90 favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the hottest spring odds and offers including Best Tote or SP + 20% on the Manikato!
To date Chautauqua has won eight of his 16 starters and from 10 runs over 1200m he boasts four wins and five seconds.
A triple Group 1 placegetter and Group 1 winner of the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick back in April, this time in the star has won both his Melbourne starts with victories in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) in his Moonee Valley debut and the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington last time out on October 4.
Now he looks to add a second elite level victory to his record in the Manikato Stakes, co-trainer John Hawkes chasing his first Manikato Stakes win since Spanish Mix (1994) 21 years ago.
One of the Hall of Fame horseman’s co-trainers and sons Wayne, is confident Chautauqua will salute for the punters on Friday evening and become the sixth favourite in the past decade to win the Manikato including Lankan Rupee last year.
“They can say what they like, Chautauqua will do our bidding on the track,” Hawkes told The Age.
“It is fair to say he is one of the best sprinters in the country.
“If he had won the Darley [Classic] and the Newmarket [Handicap] you would say he was the best, and we would say he had excuses in both of those [races].
“He didn’t have things go his way in those [races] and he didn’t have things go his way in the TJ Smith but won it.
“I think he is getting better and everyone has seen what he has done this time in.”
The other best fancied Manikato Stakes hopes are the returning Stradbroke Handicap – Tattersall’s Tiara winning mare Srikanidi ($4.20) for Ciaron Maher, the in-form John O’Shea-trained Golden Rose winning colt Exosphere ($5) in his Melbourne debut and Joe Pride’s last start Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) winning in Sydney Terravista ($5).
The last of the current single-figure hopes is then the Robert Heathcote-trained Buffering ($8) who won the 2013 Manikato before a seventh last year in a blanket finish beaten only 0.6 lengths.
Buffering travelled overseas for the first time last season and ran sixth in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) in December before returning to Australia and winning the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) first-up at Moonee Valley last time out on October 2.
The Moir Stakes has produced the past two Manikato Stakes winners – Buffering and Lankan Rupee both running second in the other Moonee Valley Group 1 sprint before their wins.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for the Manikato Stakes 2015 field and barriers out later this week.
In the meantime get behind your early picks at the hottest odds at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $700 bonus bet for new depositing players that enter the exclusive promo code SPRINGBONUS!