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Manikato Stakes preview

Moonee Valley's great raceday has been split into two now, in a move doesn't sit well with too many of the traditionalists (like me). The headline act on Friday night is the Group 1 Manikato Stakes, amassing a tremendous field of sprinters. With the preview, it's Mitch Fenton.

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2014 MANIKATO STAKES PREVIEW
Group 1, 1200m WFA
Form guide

By Mitch Fenton

Website
Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking

1.BUFFERING – 4 – D.BROWNE / R.HEATHCOTE
ODDS: $6.50 (early TAB prices quoted)

Qld champion who finally broke his Group 1 maiden in this race 12 months ago when beating Hong Kong star Lucky Nine. Amazingly he now has four Group 1 wins to his name after claiming another one last start in the Moir Stakes at this track and trip.

Was allowed to lead and dictate in the Moir when Newitt decided to take the sit on Lankan Rupee, and after being beautifully rated by Browne in front he was too tough and staved them all off again!

He was at his most vulnerable being first up against quality horses that had the race fitness edge and they couldn’t beat him. Will be further improved by the run and I personally don’t think any of those that finished behind him in the Moir can turn the tables now he’ll strip fitter for this race.

Goes into this race following the exact same program as 12 months ago, and he’s going every bit as well as he was then, probably better.

There is some new flesh on the scene in the form of Terravista, Not listenin’tome and Bounding, but they haven’t proven themselves against the tough battle hardened Gr1 open sprinters at WFA level.

Will lead them up and it’ll take a good effort to get past him as it looks as though he’ll be able to dictate terms again out in front. Has the heart of a lion!

2.LANKAN RUPEE – 9 – C.NEWITT / M.PRICE
ODDS: $4.20

After an all-conquering autumn campaign that saw him win the Oakleigh Plate, Newmarket Handicap & TJ Smith Stakes, he was rightfully touted as the world’s premier sprinter.

But his bubble has burst somewhat this campaign being beaten at both outings the McEwen & Moir, albeit by a very slender margin on both occasions. He’s not going as bad as some pundits might be suggesting though, because in reality he’s only been beaten by about a cumulative total of 10 inches in the two defeats.

But he’s simply not going anywhere near as well as he was during the autumn! The Lankan Rupee we saw in the autumn would have blitzed the fields he has been beaten in this prep.

Thought Newitt made a blunder last start with his tactics, he jumped out a length in front but handed up the lead to Buffering without a fight. That suggests to me that the horse might be slightly amiss or it was just a poor split second decision. Cast your mind back to the TJ Smith, Lankan lead Buffering and thrashed him, which only three horses have ever done to Buffering and they go ok – Sepoy, Hay List & Black Caviar!

Price cited a hoof issue as the potential problem, so if that was the only issue and it’s been remedied he can definitely bounce back!

Write him off at your own peril.

3.TEMPLE OF BOOM – 8 - T.GOLLAN / MS. T.HARRISON
ODDS: $26

Evergreen Qld sprinter who is as honest as the day is long.

Has run in this race the past two years, finishing unplaced on both occasions (beaten 2.8 and 3.1 lengths). They have been his only two Moonee Valley runs.

Had a terrific Qld Winter Carnival when, culminating in a terrific secnd in the Stradbroke beaten very narrowly by River Lad who had the pull in the weights. (Group 1 record - 17 starts: one win, two seconds, one third).

Both runs this time in have been as honest as ever, both down the Flemington straight, that he loves so much, in the Bobbie Lewis & Gilgai. Both times he’s bumped into the very promising Hawkes sprinter Chautauqua, who blitzed all-comers in devastating fashion.

Has raced against his statesman Buffering nine times during his career and Buffering leads that head-to-head 7-2.

Will give an honest account, but prefer him down the straight.

4.MOMENT OF CHANGE – 10 - C.SCHOFIELD / PG.MOODY
ODDS: $19

Triple Group 1 winning sprinter who has been freshened up since flopping in the Memsie won by his stablemate Dissident back in late August.

Chased Buffering home on four occasions last Spring, including a heart-breaking nose margin in Perth’s 1200m Gr1 Winterbottom Stakes.

Was an absolutely luckless fourth in this race last year behind Buffering, he missed the start and was flushed wide on cornering but ran the fastest closing 600, 400 and 200m times to get within a half length of the Qlder.

Has a terrific fresh record, so the big each-way odds on offer are fairly generous for mine. Watch out for him launching late!

5.REBEL DANE – 3 - C.WILLIAMS / G.PORTELLI
ODDS: $9.00

Hasn’t won in over 12 months, with his latest win coming in the 2013 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes. Showed last start when third in the Moir behind Buffering that he’s getting back to something like the form that saw him claim a Group 1 crown.

Will probably try and settle closer to the speed to this around if possible, he just can’t afford to be giving Buffering to big a start and expect to beat him. He was 3.3L off Buffering in the Moir and did close him down to a short neck, but settling closer is the key to his chances of beating Buffering around the Valley.

Good chance.

6.FAMOUS SEAMUS – 5 – T.CLARK / N.MAYFIELD-SMITH
ODDS: $26

Beat Buffering and Temple of Boom to claim the 1200m Gr1 BTC Cup during the Brisbane Winter carnival to leave punters on the floor.

Two runs this time in have been terrific. He was third first-up behind Terravista in The Shorts but he was really chewing up the ground at the end of the 1100m and got within 2L of that winner. Second up he overcame an average run in transit, posted three deep, to tough it out and win the 1200m Gr2 Premiere Stakes at Royal Randwick.

He’s super honest and deserves a crack at Australia’s elite sprinters, wouldn’t be surprised to see him up filling a place.

7.TERRAVISTA – 7 – J.PRIDE / H.BOWMAN
ODDS: $3.75

Up-and-coming sprinter who boasts an impressive career record of eight wins and a placing from just 11 starts.

Has won both starts this campaign; first up in the 1200m Gr3 Show County back in August he was far too good for last week's Listed sprint winner at Caulfield, In Cahoots, in what was a soft 2L win.

Second up on the 20th of September in 1100m Gr2 The Shorts he again proved to strong. He won the race by 2L on the line but against the slightly better class of opposition, it looked like he was all out on the line.

He’s been kept fresh for his first crack at a Gr1 sprint, which has worked well for him in the past.

I just can’t have him though and think he’s THE LAY OF THE DAY!

He’s untried at Moonee Valley, he’s untried the Melbourne way and he rises exponentially in grade from a weak quality Gr2 handicap to a Gr1 WFA against not only Australia’s best, but some of the world’s best!

Those are all very big queries for me, especially the class rise.

Absolutely ridiculous odds. That’s not to say he couldn’t win, but you’d want at LEAST double what they're offering now!

Leave me out!

8.ICONIC – 1 – N.HALL / T.McEVOY
ODDS: $61

Was a slashing run in the Gr2 1000m Schillaci Stakes on Guineas Day.

This is a bridge too far though, and he represents a big risk in my eye over the 1200m, which he’s had two tries at for two failures.

Think he needs an 1100m race in lesser company.

9.NOT LISTENIN’TOME – 1 - T.BERRY / G.MOORE
ODDS: $21

Twice Gr1 placed as a three year-old when in the Hawkes stable – in the 1200m Coolmore Stud Stakes when second behind Zoustar last spring and was also second in the Canterbury Stakes behind gun mare Appearance.

Simply found the 1000m of the Schillaci too short and they were too nippy for him but he still got to the line in good fashion.

This is the acid test for him meeting our best sprinters at level weights now as a four year-old, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him measure right up. Whether or not this is it I’m not sure, but I’m confident he’s a Gr1 type.

Nice each way bet, can win!

10.PLATELET – 12 – B.MELHAM / D.WEIR
ODDS: $21

Dual Gr1 winning mare, who also comes here through the Schillaci Stakes on Guineas Day.

She won those Group 1s at successive outings back in early 2013 in the Sangster and Goodwood both run over 1200m at Morphettville.

Deserves a crack at this grade no doubt, but I think as genuine as she is, this will just be a bit too much for her. Melbourne Gr1 WFA is worlds apart from Adelaide Fillies and Mares & handicap races.

11.BOUNDING – 11 – M.DU PLESSIS / K & B KELSO
ODDS: $34

Kiwi sprint mare with a terrific career record of seven wins and five placings from 12 starts, having never missed the placings.

One of those wins was a Gr1, the Railway Stakes, NZ’s premier sprint race held on New Year’s Day and three of the others have come at Group 3 level.

The form isn’t terrific by any stretch out of those wins though. The fourth horse in that Railway Stakes was Durham Town, he was 2L behind Bounding. We saw him over here in Qld in 2012. He was unplaced and uncompetitive in four Qld runs, and they were only in Gr3 / Listed company.

Think this will be too rich for her.

12.ANGELIC LIGHT – 6 - R.GRIFFITHS / D.OLIVER
ODDS: $17

She was the giant killer second run back this campaign toppling the ‘world’s best sprinter’ Lankan Rupee in a shock upset result in the 1000m Gr2 McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Has returned from that 12 month injury layoff in great order, going better than she ever has!

Last start she was fourth in the Moir beaten just under a length behind Buffering, in a race he controlled from the front. He proved her win over Lankan Rupee was no fluke and that she genuinely belongs at this level.

She’s big odds for a horse that beat Lankan Rupee fair and square two back and was under a length off a horse who is a whole lot shorter in the market for this race, last time out.

Wouldn’t shock me one bit to see her win again!

SELECTIONS (BASED ON GOOD/DEAD)
#1 BUFFERING
#2 LANKAN RUPEE
#9 NOT LISTENIN’TOME
#5 REBEL DANE
#4 MOMENT OF CHANGE


There looks absolutely no natural speed runners in the race that would be capable of going serving it up to Buffering out in front…UNLESS like they did in the TJ Smith they let Lankan Rupee run, as opposed to taking hold like they did in the Moir! But considering he’s had issues of some description I’d be surprised if Newitt’s tactics were to lock horns with Buffering. That said I can see this race unfolding a lot like the Moir Stakes, and a lot like last year’s Manikato, in which Buffering led on his own, controlled the race and toughed it out at the end while horses flew at him from left, right and centre.

SUGGESTED BET:
• 5 UNITS WIN / 10 UNITS PLACE
#1 BUFFERING @$6.50 & $1.75

Big profit if he wins, but still make a small profit if he gets beaten and runs the place.
Can’t see him possibly missing the top 3!

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