Trainer Tony McEvoy is keen for Manuel to earn a wild card into the All-Star Mile and is hoping the Group One winner can do so with victory in the Blamey Stakes at Flemington.
With the inaugural $5 million All-Star Mile in two weeks at Flemington, Saturday’s Group Two Blamey (1600m) has benefited with a strong field including 2017 Caulfield and Melbourne Cup placegetter Johannes Vermeer.
Manuel won the Group One C F Orr Stakes two starts ago at Caulfield over 1400m before finishing fifth, beaten just over a length, in the Group One Futurity Stakes last Saturday.
There are three wild cards for the All-Star Mile to be announced on Monday.
“I’m backing Manuel up to see if I can get him into the All-Star Mile,” McEvoy said.
“I mean, if an Orr winner and a Blamey winner can’t get in then the race is even more flawed.
“But he was great in the Futurity last week. He missed the start and Luke (Currie) made a mistake by digging him up, I thought.
“He was only beaten 1.2 lengths after losing a length-and-a-half at the start. So he would have been right in the mix again.”
Johannes Vermeer, racing for the first time since his second in the 2017 Melbourne Cup, was the $3.90 favourite on Friday ahead of West Australian visitor Material Man ($4.20) who already has a spot in the All-Star Mile after finishing in the top 10 in a public vote.
Manuel was at $11 while stablemate Bring Me Roses was $17 and McEvoy is not discounting her at the track where she excels.
Bring Me Roses has been unplaced in two runs at Caulfield this preparation but her Flemington form includes a win in the Group Two Edward Manifold Stakes in 2017 and Group One placings in a VRC Oaks, Australian Guineas and Empire Rose Stakes.
“Bring Me Roses has got to find her form,” McEvoy said.
“She’s going very well, but her race day form is just a bit below.
“Back to Flemington is key for her.
“I’ve put the blinkers back on her and with 53 kilos, she’s got to be respected.”