Manikato Stakes 2017: Vega Magic Too Strong

Jockey Craig Williams is supremely confident heading into Friday evening’s 2017 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes where he believes race favourite Vega Magic will be “too strong” for his 10 rivals.

Craig Williams

Jockey Craig Williams is confident on 2017 Manikato Stakes favourite Vega Magic under the lights at Moonee Valley on Friday night. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The highlight of the Cox Plate Eve twilight meeting, this season’s Group 1 $1 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) field features 11 sprinters including the Lindsay Park-trained Vega Magic.

Dominating Manikato Stakes betting at, the in-form son of Lope De Vega has champion hoop Williams aboard for the third time on the trot.

Williams chases his first Manikato Stakes winning ride and thinks he’s on a good thing.

Two back Williams and Vega Magic combined at Caulfield to win the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), which was the horse’s fourth straight win and second elite level after The Goodwood (1200m) success in Adelaide back in March.

Williams was also on for The Goodwood win before Damien Oliver took over when the five-year-old carted 60.5kg to an impressive Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) victory first-up over Brave Smash.

Last time out Vega Magic travelled to Sydney for the first time lining-up in the highly-anticipated inaugural edition of the $10 million The Everest (1200m).

From barrier 10 of 12 the galloper was luckless in defeat crossing under a length away second behind the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Redzel.

On Friday night the chestnut sees the notorious Moonee Valley track for the first time, out to be the first Manikato Stakes winner to salute from barrier three in over three decades.

Williams believes the barriers are inconsequential however and that Vega Magic will just win.

“I do just think he is going to be too strong for them,” Williams said on Tuesday morning after the official Manikato Stakes barrier draw.

“I think an even track is the key to him, after what happened in The Everest.

“I was really impressed with his performance on that day where it was impossible to be wide away from the rail and cover ground.

“He was the only one throughout the whole day that was actually able to close off strongly.

“If he brings that same form to the Manikato on Friday night they are going to be pressed to beat him that’s for sure.”

It seems the bookies agree with Vega Magic at $2.25 and firming in the Manikato Stakes odds.

Favourites have won four of the past seven editions of the race, Chautauqua ($2.50 in 2015) the latest before Rebel Dane scored the shock upset as a $61 outsider last spring.

Hawkes Racing super star Chautauqua was two lengths back seventh as the beaten $2.25 favourite in last year’s Manikato Stakes results, returning for a third time on Friday.

Fourth in The Everest last start after getting too far back in the run, the seven-year-old grey is rated a $7.50 shot to secure a second Manikato Stakes win in three years.

Chautauqua has Dwayne Dunn in the saddle from a wide barrier 10 draw, the same gate Buffering (2013) won from four years ago.

In Her Time ($5.50) is the other single-figure fancy chasing her third straight win, the mare in Chautauqua’s 2015 winning barrier (2) with Corey Brown aboard.

Check out the updated Manikato Stakes 2017 betting markets online now through


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