Sunday at the Sunshine Coast sees the postponed...
It is shaping up as a killer spring for three-year-old sprinters with Ciaron Maher & David Eustace’s smart filly Loving Gaby taking out Friday night’s 2019 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes against the older horses.
Just six days on from the record-breaking $14 million The Everest win by Chris Waller’s colt Yes Yes Yes, the three-year-olds were showing-up the older horses again this time at The Valley under the lights in the Group 1 $1 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m).
In a masterful training performance by Maher & Eustace, the Caulfield-based duo proved their I Am Invincible filly Loving Gaby was a genuine top-level sprinter despite her proven ability at a mile.
As a two-year-old she was twice placed at Group 1 level in Sydney including behind Castelvecchio in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m).
This season she won first-up at Moonee Valley in the Group 3 Champagne Classic (1200m) before heading to Caulfield when runner-up as the beaten odds-on favourite in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m).
Returning to the 1200m at the tight Valley circuit on the eve of the Cox Plate 2019, Loving Gaby made it two-from-two at the track and distance taking out the Manikato as the odds-on favourite Bivouac failed to run in the money.
The punters had been keen on the James Cummings-trained Golden Rose winner Bivouac ($1.80) who defeated subsequent The Everest winner Yes Yes Yes over the 1400m at Rosehill last time out.
At The Valley however the hot favourite struggled to get into the race from barrier one eventually finishing around two and a half lengths back for sixth.
Loving Gaby was drawn just one wider in barrier two, but jockey Craig Williams gave the filly the perfect ride to defeat WA sprinter Vital Silver ($31) by three-quarters of a length.
There were two fillies in the Manikato Stakes field and both ended up in the trifecta as the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Blue Sapphire Stakes winner Anaheed ($12) ran home well a further length back in third.
Original plans for Loving Gaby were to target the consistent filly for a run against her own kind over further at Caulfield in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m).
She wasn’t quite ready for that mile showdown in early October however leading co-trainer Maher to look at the Group 1 $1 million Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on VRC Derby Day (November 2).
“Last prep she got out to a mile and we sort of thought the mile [Empire Rose] was a good target after we didn’t get to the Thousand Guineas,” Maher told the media post-win on Friday evening.
“But she had been really sharp in her work and you’ve seen her race last start off a slow pace and she was right up on the steel and I just wasn’t confident going to the mile without having another run.
“When this race was winnable – it was between the three-year-olds it looked on paper – and the way she worked here on Tuesday, that gave us an indication.”
Plans are now likely to run against the three-year-olds down the Flemington straight in the Group 1 $1.5 million Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) over the Empire Rose against the mares.
“It’s just a relief. She’s always had the ability and there last prep she was a little unlucky in a couple of the Group 1s so to get the job done, it’s just a credit to everybody and really pleased to get one for Phoenix also,” Maher, who won the Coolmore Stud Stakes with Merchant Navy in 2017, added.
2019 Manikato Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||11||LOVING GABY||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Craig Williams||–||2||51kg||$7|
|2||5||VITAL SILVER||Daniel & Ben Pearce||Ben Melham||0.75L||9||58.5kg||$31|
|3||10||ANAHEED||Peter & Paul Snowden||Tim Clark||1.75L||11||51kg||$12|
|4||1||ROCK MAGIC||Chris Gangemi||Jarrad Noske||1.85L||5||58.5kg||$41|
|5||2||THE BOSTONIAN (NZ)||Tony Pike||Damian Lane||2.35L||3||58.5kg||$7.50|
|6||9||BIVOUAC||James Cummings||Kerrin McEvoy||2.45L||1||53kg||$1.80F|
|7||7||WINTER BRIDE||Toby & Trent Edmonds||Tommy Berry||3.95L||6||56.5kg||$41|
|8||3||FAATINAH||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Jamie Kah||4.95L||8||58.5kg||$26|
|9||6||TROPE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||5.45L||10||58.5kg||$12|
|10||4||ASHLOR||Dan McCarthy||Daniel Stackhouse||15.45L||7||58.5kg||$101|
|11||8||MERYL||Lee Curtis||Dean Yendall||21.45L||4||56.5kg||$41|
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