After a below par debut down under in the Lexus Stakes on Derby Day, trainer Ciaron Maher is hoping for an improved run and maybe even an upset win from his imported galloper Manalapan in the 2015 Sandown Cup on Saturday.
A six-year-old son of Six Sense, Manalapan has had 19 starts for a trio of wins to date, the latest being over 2600m in Ireland during our winter.
Joining Maher’s Caulfield stables earlier this spring, the gelding had his first start for his new trainer at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m).
From an outside barrier 13 draw with Luke Currie aboard Manalapan failed to make a real impression after getting caught wide and facing the breeze before crossing over 10 lengths away ninth to Excess Knowledge.
“His form probably wasn’t up to his best [coming to Australia],” Maher told Racing Ahead.
“His run the other day was quite good – he did a lot of work up on the speed.
“He went wide facing the breeze, hit the front turning in.”
This weekend he gets the chance to atone second-up at Sandown Hillside in the $150,000 Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) stepping up to the two miles for the first time.
There are 14 stayers left in the Sandown Cup field after the scratching of the Robbie Laing-trained Cuban Fighter with Manalapan set to jump from barrier five.
Vlad Duric takes the ride in place of Currie this weekend, the horse getting in on the 54kg minimum with Sandown Cup weights led by Gai Waterhouse’s 2014 Sydney Cup champ The Offer (60kg) who ran a brave Melbourne Cup eighth last time out.
The Offer is at $5.50 to win his second race in three starts having come into the ‘race that stops a nation’ on the back of a Bendigo Cup success.
He sits just behind equal $5 favourites Almoonqith and De Little Engine in the Sandown Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, the top fancies having run very different lead-up races.
The David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained Almoonqith won the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) two back before a luckless Melbourne Cup 18th crossing seven lengths off the upset winner Prince Of Penzance on the first Tuesday of November.
Danny O’Brien’s Encosta De Lago five-year-old De Little Engine meanwhile was seventh to Almoonqith in the Geelong Cup beaten six lengths last month before winning in easier company over 2800m at Flemington on Cup Day carrying 57kg, meaning he drops three kilos in weights to 54kg this weekend.
Manalapan meanwhile can be found further down the Sandown Cup betting markets at $26, a price Maher is hoping the horse can run better than.
“I think he’s done reasonably well in the stable, but I don’t think he’s found his best form yet,” he said.
To check out the full Sandown Cup 2015 odds and get behind your selections for the two mile feature head to Ladbrokes.com.au now – home of Best Tote or SP + 20% on Saturday’s Zipping Classic!