Local galloper Zahspeed remains the solid...
Manuel claimed the Group 1 Ladbrokes Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday in what came as a major surprise for punters aboard the $26.00 hopeful.
In just his second start at Caulfield, trainer Tony McEvoy went in with fond memories of the track, although the occasion was much smaller last time around.
Manuel won a BM84 race back in October, backing it up with two runner-up placings and a win in the listed Kilmore Cup (1600m) in November.
Second up in his Group 1 debut on Saturday, Tony’s son Calvin never expected to win, but was grateful patience finally paid off for a horse that has seen his fair share of placings.
“He’s a horse we’ve had so much time for, he’s just always been doing a few little things wrong” McEvoy said.
“But last prep, he just ran so consistently, a lot of seconds, a lot of firsts- he came here today and we were obviously the outsider, but what a ride by Luke (Currie), he got to the front and didn’t have to do too much.”
The win didn’t come easy for Manuel, who had to hold off strong challenges from the likes of Brave Smash and Kementari after leading from the 900m mark. Racing alongside the rails, Currie knew his ride was always a chance up on the speed.
“He’s a bold type of horse, he’s better on speed, he was wild last time at The Valley, but today he just mapped, he got a nice lead, he softened up nice early,” Currie said.
Talks for a spot in next month’s $5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) continue to heat up, and it’s likely Manuel could be a popular pick among voters after his underdog performance.
McEvoy hopes racing fans have taken notice.
“He’s the one we’ve been wanting to get there from the beginning, hopefully a few people pick up on it today, because he’s a really consistent horse and he deserves it.”
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