Group 1 Manikato Stakes, Moonee Valley, Melbourne, Friday, October 23, 6:45pm
The two-day Moonee Valley carnival kicks off this Friday night as the nation's best sprinters go to battle in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes.
Australia's best sprinter, Chautauqua, is a drifting favourite as support has come for classy runners Buffering, Terravista and Srikandi.
The full field of 10 will takes its place for the feature and with seven other quality races on the card, this Friday night promises to be a great night's punting.
We have all eight races covered. Things kick off with the LF Sign Group 3YO Handicap where Stream Ahead starts as the favourite.
Race 1 – LF Sign Group 3YO Handicap (1000m)
Stream Ahead was no match for its rivals in the Group 3 McNeil Stakes at Caulfield last start, but this field is a much easier target. The Doug Harrison-trained filly won a debut winner by two lengths before finishing second behind the highly-touted Petits Filou on this track second up. That form reads well for this and the drop back to 1000 metres should suit. $3.50 available with bookmakers.
Petite's Reward is coming off back-to-back wins, the latest a one-length victory at Bendigo. The three-year-old filly doesn't exactly have breeding on its side, but Damien Oliver has been booked to ride and that should give punters plenty of confidence. It has been well supported in all three career starts, but punters have let it drift out slightly from $3.50 to $3.60. Good winning chance.
Miss Idyllic is a short-course specialist which will enjoy returning back to Moonee Valley. The Hayes/Dabernig-trained filly has placed on three occasions at this track and the drop back in distance is ideal. Expect the Exceed And Excel filly to go forward and be tough to run down. A nice each way price of $4.20 is available.
Race 2 – Chandler Macleod Subzero Challenge (1500m)
The Robbie Griffiths-trained Girl In Flight has plenty of class, but it's struggling to show its best form. It has finished second-to-last and last in its past two runs, both coming in group 2 grade, but this should be a much easier target. The five-year-old has won four from 19 with two placings on this track and if it can replicate its form earlier in its career, it should go well here at $4.40.
Rock Forthe Ladies is the current $2.50 favourite after back-to-back wins in much lower grades. The Peter Moody-trained gelding won by 3.75 lengths at Goulburn two back and followed that up with a four-length victory at Nowra. This is a major step up in class from rating 60 to rating 90, but the punters don't seem to mind. It's in the right stable and has Glen Boss in the saddle, but we're prepared to risk it at that price.
Secret Toy Bizness was a good winner in the all grey's race at Caulfield last start. The six-year-old came from near last on the home turn and produced a good sprint down the outside to score by a nose. It would appear that the tight Moonee Valley track would not suit, but it has won and placed twice on this track so it should be included at odds of $6.
Tip: Girl In Flight to place ($2.15) at Sportsbet.com.au
Race 3 – City Jeep Handicap (2040m)
The Darren Weir-trained Our Voodoo Prince hasn't exactly followed through with what it promised when it first arrived in Australia. The eight-year-old import burst onto the scene last year, but it has only been able to win one since and it hasn't been facing the toughest fields of late. The son of Kingmambo is consistent and this distance is ideal, but taking the $3.30 on offer takes some guts.
Well found in the market is Sysmo at $6.50. The Tony McEvoy-trained gelding finished sixth behind Turn Me Loose in the Listed Seymour Cup last Sunday and the quick back-up should do it some good. It's having its first start at Moonee Valley which is concerning, but it's looking for this distance and it will be finishing off strongly down the outside. Good winning chance in an even field.
Temps Voleur has found great form, winning four of its last five starts. The Robbie Laing-trained gelding went to Adelaide and won its last three starts, but it returns to Moonee Valley where it finished second four starts back. It has a nice draw here and it should go well. It opened at $7.50 and has stayed steady at that price all week.
Race 4 – Johnnie Walker Country Cup (1600m)
Lucky Paddy was scratched from the Wednesday meeting at Geelong after drawing wide, but it hasn't had much luck in the barrier draw here either. The Darren Weir-trained gelding has drawn wide in barrier 10, but it has the ability to either go forward and drop back and run on well. The in-form Mark Zahra takes the ride and punters have backed it into $4 after opening at $4.80.
Excites Zelady is the current favourite after winning well last start. The Chris Bieg-trained gelding was good enough to finish second behind The Bowler in the Group 3 R.A Lee Stakes at Morphettville five starts back and that form should stack up well for this. It has won three times with four placings at this distance and despite drawing barrier 11, it should have a very good chance to win. Currently paying $3.60 with bookmakers.
Kourkam is a lightly-tried six-year-old which is fresh up after finishing last at its two most recent starts. The Tony McEvoy-trained runner goes well fresh with three wins from five starts, and it will need to produce after two very average performances. It does, however, have plenty of class as shown by its Group 2 Blamey Stakes placing at Flemington. Don't leave it out at odds of $7.50.
Tip: Excites Zelady to win ($3.50) at WilliamHill.com.au
Race 5 – Jeep 55 Second Challenge (955m)
Bullpit is a speedy gelding which went close last start on this track. The Danny O'Brien-trained runner has won twice at Moonee Valley and three times at this distance. It was beaten by half-a-length by Tuscan Sling last start and it has subsequently run well at Caulfield since. It looks well suited here with Damien Oliver riding at $3.50 in the betting.
Klishina is an interesting runner for trainer David Bourke. The six-year-old mare rattled home to finish fourth behind Chautauqua in the Group 2 McEwen last start at odds of $101. It appears to love Moonee Valley with a win and a placing, so it must be included on that effort last start. Tricky draw, but it has been well supported at $4.60.
Grane has been well backed in from $8 to $7. The Robbie Griffiths-trained gelding was last seen when flying home over this distance last start and a repeat performance will take it very close in this. The six-time winner likes to get back in the running and fly home late, but from barrier three it might take a more forward position in the run. Good value chance at the price.
Tip: Grane to win ($7) at Sportsbet.com.au
Race 6 – Bertocchi Handicap (1200m)
Cashed stepped up to the big time last start and it ran extremely well. The Ryan Balfour-trained gelding was a $61 chance against the likes of Lankan Rupee and Alpha Miss, but it finished second and it was flying late. The Adelaide gelding has placed on this track and even though it hasn't raced over the 1200-metre distance before, it has suggested that it will suit. Solid chance at $3.80.
On the second line of betting at $4.80 is Reldas which won impressively over 955 metres last time out on this track. The Robert Smerdon-trained gelding loves Moonee Valley with three wins and three placings from eight starts and only the wide draw is of concern. It has drawn barrier 12 which will force to it drop back and it will need luck in the straight. A winning chance if that luck appears.
It Is Written has been well supported at $5 after a much-improved third at Cranbourne last start. The seven-year-old had been competing in tougher fields than this, which included the Group 1 Goodwood at Morphettville. It has plenty of class and it has won seven times on this track, so it shouldn't be left out of calculations if it can find its best form again.
Race 7 – WilliamHill Manikato Stakes (1200m)
The Hawkes-trained Chautauqua is the best sprinter in Australia, but punters aren't confident that it can win this. The eight-time winner of more than $2.6 million opened at $1.90, but has since drifted out to $2.15 in an alarming betting drift. Usually when hot-shot sprinters drift in the market is doesn't bode well, but we can't overlook its pure ability. It won its only start on this track and has won four from 10 with five placings at this distance. If it gets out to somewhere around $2.80 we'll be very worried, but the $2.15 looks good at the moment.
Buffering is a course specialist which is coming off a strong Group 1 Moir Stakes win last start. The Robert Heathcote-trained gelding has won five from 10 on this track and 11 times at this distance. Two runs back it raced in Hong Kong where it finished sixth behind Aerovelocity and it looks to have returned in good order. Tricky draw of seven, but expect it to sit near the pace and the $7 available looks like good value.
Srikandi hasn't raced since June, but it goes well fresh and it has been specked in the betting. The Ciaron Maher-trained mare has won twice when fresh and it's coming off back-to-back Group 1 wins. Its first came in the Stradbroke where it defeated the likes of Boban by 1.75 lengths, and the second came in the Tatt's Tiara where it won by a length over Avoid Lightning. It's a very tough mare and could win this if it's prepared well enough. It opened at $7, dropped to $6 and has since drifted back out to $6.50.
Tip: Chautauqua to win ($2.15) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 8 – Jeep Handicap (2040m)
Imperial Lass is coming off a strong win at Ballarat last start and it has been well backed for this. The Peter Moody-trained mare is currently at $4 which does look short on face value, but it did compete well against some quality runners earlier this year. It finished sixth behind Bohemian Lily in the Listed Bracelet at Gold Coast, before running fifth behind Ballet Suite. Good form, but it has won only two from 12 starts which is concerning.
Long Face Grace has come a long way in a short period of time by winning its last three of four. The Mark Kavanagh-trained mare beat Zanteca last start and it has subsequently won on Geelong Cup day last Wednesday. It has drawn wide in barrier 12, but over the Cox Plate distance that shouldn't worry it too much. Glen Boss is an astute staying rider and it looks a nice each way chance at odds of $6.50.
It wasn't long ago that Spanish Love was running at Moonee Valley at very short odds, but its form has tapered off a touch. The Mark Kavanagh-trained mare has won once and placed twice on this track and it did put in a good performance two starts back on this track. It was scratched from Wednesday's meeting at Geelong for this so expect a handy effort at odds.