Jockey Dwayne Dunn is hoping that off a hot tempo he can round up his Manikato Stakes 2016 rivals from the back aboard the favourite Chautauqua in Friday night’s Moonee Valley sprint classic.
Running as Moonee Valley Race 7 at 9:30pm (AEDT) on the eve of Cox Plate Day, a field of 11 stars line-up in the $1 million Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).
Last year the Team Hawkes-trained Chautauqua enjoyed a two length romp home in the race with Tommy Berry aboard.
Dunn is in the saddle for the Encosta De Lago six-year-old’s title defence this season with the galloper out to join Spinning Hill (2002-03) and Spark Of Life (2004-05) as the most recent back-to-back Manikato Stakes winners.
In his first run since winning the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint (1200m) overseas in Hong Kong, Chautauqua kicked off his campaign on September 30 in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m).
He started short-priced favourite in betting but was beaten home by three lengths running fourth to boom three-year-old Extreme Choice.
The Moir Stakes produced both Buffering (2nd in 2013) and Lankan Rupee (2nd in 2014) for their respective Manikato Stakes victories, with the short-distance feature again looking the formline to follow into Friday night.
The latest Manikato Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au have Chautauqua installed as the $2.35 favourite; favourites having saluted for the punters in the race six times in the past decade.
Dunn is yet to ride a Manikato Stakes winner and is out to do it this season from barrier one.
Danleigh (2009), Hay List (2010) and Sepoy (2011) all won from the inside alley in the past decade.
Twelve months ago Chautauqua got the job done from near the fence after jumping from barrier two.
While confirming he would have rather drawn a little wider, Dunn is hoping for plenty of speed on so he can swoop home on Chautauqua who will relish getting back up to 1200m – a distance he has seven wins, six seconds and a third from 15 starts over to date.
“I’m just going to have to play the cards that are dealt to me now,” he told the media this week.
“He doesn’t have to go back to last but if the tempo is fast enough it probably suits me to round them up.”
The Manikato Stakes field is certainly full of class with all but one of the final acceptors having won in Group 1 company.
The odd one out yet to take out an elite level is the Matthew Dale-trained Fell Swoop.
A five-year-old son of Not A Single Doubt, Fell Swoop currently pays $12 in the Manikato Stakes odds.
He is drawn in barrier three, which hasn’t produced a winner in over 30 years, and has in-form Sydney hoop Hugh Bowman booked for the ride.
Bowman partnered Fell Swoop first-up at Caulfield on October 8 for a third to Star Turn in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m); Gold Edition (2007) was the last Manikato Stakes winner to come off a Caulfield run.
Fell Swoop is the sole five-year-old in the field this year and that age group have won six of the past 11 editions of the Manikato Stakes.
He also boasts the second highest win rate in the field of 53%, trailing only the Golden Slipper winner Capitalist (57%) who is the $6 second favourite.
Back your favourites in the Manikato Stakes at the right price online now at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of Enhanced Odds (T&Cs apply).