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Manikato Stakes preview

Wedged in between the two big Cups in Melbourne is the weekend meeting at Moonee Valley, with two top-notch G1s - the renowned W.S.Cox Plate on Saturday, and a more recent development, the Manikato Stakes on Friday night. It's all change at Moonee Valley soon, the course is going to be re-aligned to create a longer straight, which means the quirky track with a straight of under a furlong (200m) will not exist for much longer.

Summoning the courage to return after his mixed debut last week is Callum Gogerly, @_gogs10


William Hill Manikato Stakes
Group 1 WFA, 1200m
Moonee Valley 2130 AEST 1130 BST

Speed: The speed looks solid enough without being too hectic considering it's a 1200m Group 1 event. Expect Buffering (1) to drive through after the first 100m to take it up. I'd anticipate Holler (9) and Capitalist (11) to be thereabouts. Interestingly there are a number of get back horses with Chautauqua (2), Lucky Hussler (3), Under The Louvre (4) and The Quarterback (6) all noted back markers. This should be a cracker!

(It's also worth noting there is forecast rain of up to 20mm on Friday)

1. Buffering, $10 - An old marvel. Hard to believe he raced against the likes of Black Caviar and Hay List. Lining up in his 35th, yes 35th, Group 1 this evening! He did enough first up, sitting outside a hot speed and finishing next to rivals Chautauqua and Lucky Hussler while never really threatening. Should lead relatively easily tonight and history says that at the very least his opposition will need to bring their best to run him down.

2. Chautauqua, $2.50 - The pre-eminent sprinter on the planet who comes here to defend his crown second up. Varying schools of thought after his first up run in the Moir. Do we judge him harshly because we expect him to win every time he steps out? I think there's an element of that. Ultimately, he was unable to run past B-Grade sprinters Wild Rain and Heatherly. After drawing barrier one, you know he'll be near enough to last and on the fence, it didn't stop him last year and he's clearly the default selection here, but is he a betting proposition at that price? Probably not.

3. Lucky Hussler, $10 - Another runner who came through the Moir first up. He finished alongside many of his rivals here in that race too. Even though he has won the Group 1 William Reid over this track/distance I just get the feeling that he does his best work from 1400-1600 on a slightly more expansive track. He'll be back in the pack with some quality finishers so he'll need to perform a personal best to win here tonight.

4. Under The Louvre, $21 - Slightly enigmatic galloper who is armed with a fantastic finishing burst (when he feels like it!). Broke through for an unpopular Group 1 win in the Stradbroke after being a bit of a menace for punters at times in that prep. His form this prep on paper doesn't look like he is going well enough to win a Group 1 at WFA. He was comfortably held by The Quarterback last start and meets him at the same weights here. Interesting to note though that he is 4:2-0-1 at Moonee Valley, a track that you wouldn't think would suit his style of racing.

5. Rebel Dane, $41 - Another veteran of the sprinting ranks. Lining up for his fourth Manikato tonight. His last few runs have been moderate in weaker company. You have to think that this is a bit beyond him at this stage of his career.

6. The Quarterback, $15 - Quality sprinter who was quite impressive first up. Loved the way that he joined in at the 300m, albeit at his favourite track Flemington. He is one of the few horses that can say they have run past Chautauqua (admittedly in a handicap). He probably comes to an unsuitable track and tonight might be a tough task, but I'm a bit of a believer now. Look for him in the Darley Classic down the straight.

7. Japonisme, $41 - Just hasn't seemed to have come up this prep, for whatever reason. He is quality at his best but two runs in this time have been well below that mark. Chris Waller would have pulled the pin on the prep if he'd thought he was a lost cause, that's one of the few cases you could make for his chances tonight.

8. Fell Swoop, $11 - Super consistent sprinter who seems to run a bold race no matter what level he lines up at. Was good first up behind a potential star in Star Turn. If not for a freakish Chautauqua performance in April, he wins the TJ Smith accounting for most of his opposition that day that he meets here. Hugh Bowman was scheduled to have the night off to focus on Winx Saturday, but he is here tonight for the one ride on this bloke. I'm extremely respectful.

9. Holler, $12 - Slightly forgotten galloper who stable elected to send overseas instead of a Sydney/Brisbane campaign. He saves his best for this circuit. The big query is weather he is up to tackling and conquering this grade first up from a spell. I'm not sure that he is.

10. English, $8.50 - Although a little costly for punters this prep, if you can forget what her SP has been out of your head, her two runs in have been more than adequate. She is proven at G1 level having placed in the TJ Smith earlier in the year. If she can lob midfield somewhere with a bit of cover, she will be one of the many dangerous "closers". The Takedown and Our Boy Malachi form looks good now!

11. Capitalist, $6 - Golden Slipper winner of last season who hasn't been disgraced in two runs in. The 3YO sprinters are air borne at the moment and he has form around the best of them. I suspect he was beaten by two absolute A-Graders last time out. Should find a nice spot from that gate. The only query, and it's a big one, is if the track is too rain affected. Stable have openly said that he doesn't go a yard in the wet, so treat warily if we get into the Slow range.

Tips: Such a fantastic race. I'm loathed to ever tip against superstars and even from an unsuitable draw, Chautauqua may simply prove too good. I don't think he's worth the heart palpitations you'll no doubt be receiving during the run if you've backed him though. Buffering will be out on his lonesome and most importantly out of any trouble that might be happening behind him, will take catching. Very respectful of Fell Swoop and English as next best. Capitalist is a fantastic chance but I'm concerned about the prospect of a wet track.

1. Chautauqua
2. Buffering
3. Fell Swoop
4. English


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