Champion colt has ramped up his credentials as a genuine challenger to unbeaten sprinter Black Caviar with an astonishing win in the Group One Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley.
The hearts of his supporters sank when he dwelt at the start and he looked to have blown his chances, but Kerrin McEvoy hunted him forward to take advantage of the inside gate to hold out Buffering who poured on the pressure in Friday night’s the 1200m sprint.
McEvoy admitted he was concerned early but knew that pushing up and keeping the Queensland sprinter out to the first turn was paramount.
“Buffering made me work, definitely, but when we hit the first bend and he hadn’t crossed me he was never going to get in front of me,” McEvoy said.
Trainer Peter Snowden described it as Sepoy’s best win yet as the three-year-old was taking on the older sprinters at weight-for-age at for the first time.
“To do what he did shows he is a good horse,” Snowden said.
“To me it was his best win because he met the A graders today and he beat them and he beat them easy.”
Sepoy was able to get a rest mid-race when Buffering didn’t force the issue but there was always the fear that Sepoy had already damaged his chances.
Approaching the home turn McEvoy asked the chestnut for one last effort and to the roar of the crowd the Golden Slipper winner answered with a stunning burst to put the race beyond doubt, scoring by 2-1/4 lengths from Sister Madly and More Joyous.
Buffering, gassed from his early battle, tired and was beaten 5-1/4 lengths in fourth place.
“He is great horse and I am lucky to have him,” Snowden said.
“I was very worried about the wet conditions because the only time he had been on a wet track before was his only defeat.
“But he was under done that day and tonight he was better prepared and got through it really well.
“He had the weight advantage tonight but to my mind he had the race covered a long way out.”
Snowden said it was unlikely Sepoy would clash with Black Caviar this campaign in the Group One Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 5.
He said Sepoy’s priority was the Group One Coolmore Stud Classic against his own age on Derby Day when Sheikh Mohammed was scheduled to visit.
“That would be the icing on the cake if he could win the Group One the day he is there,” Snowden said.
“It would not be as good as beating Black Caviar, but as good as we are could hope for at the moment.
“She is a champion and we are long way off that yet but he’s a very smart horse who is on the way up.”
Sepoy is only the eighth three-year-old to win the Manikato Stakes and the first since Redoute’s Choice in 1999.