The Ron Quinton-trained Royal Celebration is one...
The Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes 2017 odds on the Hawkes Racing-trained great Chautauqua to return to winning form are easing as the punters get behind the heavily-supported favourite on Friday night.
The highlight of Moonee Valley’s Cox Plate Eve twilight meeting, the Group 1 $1 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) features 11 weight-for-age sprinters.
Drawn out wide in barrier 10, which last produced a winner in Buffering (2013), is the race’s 2015 champion Chautauqua.
The only triple TJ Smith Stakes winner in history, Encosta De Lago gelding Chautauqua returned in last year’s Manikato Stakes field for a seventh beaten only two lengths by the roughie winner Rebel Dane.
Since then the ‘Grey Flash’ has won just once, the historical third TJ Smith Stakes trophy at Randwick in April this year.
He has had a trio of unplaced runs all in Sydney this spring and is racing back in Melbourne on Friday evening for the first time since a third at Caulfield in February’s Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m).
Chautauqua opened at $5.50 in Manikato Stakes betting at race sponsor Ladbrokes.com.au but is on the drift out to $7.50.
He is one of a number of graduates out of the $10 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick from October 15 where the veteran seven-year-old found himself right back, closing late to run only one and a half-lengths fourth behind Redzel.
In 30 plus years just one seven-year-old has saluted in the Manikato Stakes results when the Guy Walter-trained mare Spinning Hill won her second in 2003.
With the punters shying away from Chautauqua, the Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes odds on the Lindsay Park-trained favourite Vega Magic continue to firm in from $2.40 to $2.25.
Winner of Caulfield’s Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) two back at Caulfield, flying Lope De Vega five-year-old Vega Magic was second in The Everest in a forgivable run with plenty of excuses.
He is out to go one better with a clearer go of it from barrier three on Friday with Craig Williams retaining the ride on the sprint specialist who has run out of the money just once in 13 starts over the distance (13:9-2-1).
The only other single-figure hope in Manikato Stakes markets at a steady $5.50 is Benjamin Smith’s consistent Time Thief mare In Her Time.
She goes the Melbourne way for the first time and is back in Group 1 company for the first time since her close third in the Tattersall’s Tiara (1350m) in Brisbane over the winter.
In Her Time has won both her Randwick lead-up runs this spring and was unlucky not to get a shot at The Everest, instead winning a consolation prize on the day in the Listed $500,000 Sydney Stakesj (1200m).
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