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Jockey Hugh Bowman will be out to shake off the pre-Winx nerves on Friday night at The Valley riding Voodoo Lad who he rates a genuine hope in the Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes 2017.
The countdown is on to 5:00pm (AEDT) on Saturday afternoon at Moonee Valley when Bowman jumps on the world-class mare Winx for a shot at a third straight Group 1 $3 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).
The other elite level of the Cox Plate Carnival runs the evening before under the lights with a star-studded field of 12 doing battle in the Group 1 $1 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m).
The pressure is on Bowman on Saturday riding the $1.16 favourite Winx who is the shortest-priced Cox Plate favourite since Phar Lap ($1.07 in 1931).
His mount in the Manikato Stakes field can be found at a much juicer price with the rails-drawn Voodoo Lad a $26 outsider at Ladbrokes.com.au.
There are just three single-figure hopes in the Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes betting markets this year and in the past 15 years only two double-figure chances have won.
All the money in 2017 is on a return to winning form by the favourites with Lindsay Park’s The Everest runner-up Vega Magic ($2.25) the one the punters want.
Darren Weir saddles-up to Winx rivals with Humidor and Gailo Chop in the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate field, but Bowman is on Weir’s side on Friday riding Voodoo Lad for the stable in the Manikato.
Barrier one produced three successive Manikato Stakes winners from 2009-11 and Bowman will be looking to ride for luck up the inside on Voodoo Lad in 2017.
Fourth-up for the spring this weekend, six-year-old I Am Invincible gelding Voodoo Lad has a solid Moonee Valley track record of two wins from three starts at the tight circuit.
His only loss came last start on September 29 when Blake Shinn rode him for a close fifth under two lengths beaten by the filly She Will Reign in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) from barrier 12 of 13.
Bowman takes over in the saddle for the next Moonee Valley Group 1 sprint, his first ride on Voodoo Lad, and believes from the better barrier and getting out over the 1200m (10: 3-4-1) his horse is a genuine contender.
“I’ll be guided by Darren Weir and his stable as to what their thoughts are [regarding tactics],” Bowman told Racing Victoria on Thursday.
“At my first look, his run was excellent in the Moir, he was ridden pretty quietly from a wide draw, but from barrier one, I don’t see why I couldn’t find the back of In Her Time or possibly Vega Magic and ride him a bit closer if they’re happy with that.
“If I can get bit of room when I need it, and he’s going well enough, I don’t see why he can’t feature.”
To back Voodoo Lad for an upset at big value Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes 2017 odds head to Ladbrokes.com.au.
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