The recent Manikato Stakes will go down as one of the best finishes ever seen in a Group 1 race and has really whet the appetite for Saturday’s Group 1 Darley Classic. Eight of the thirteen runners entered in this weekend’s race contested the Manikato Stakes and less than two lengths separated them all as they cross the line. If that re-match only is not enticing enough, throw in an international superstar – Slade Power, and the exciting Chautauqua, and you arguably have the race of the carnival. Chautauqua has been super impressive in each of his two races this prep, both up the Flemington straight, and punters expect him to make the step up in grade without too much trouble, having gladly taken the $2.30 opening price about him. Lankan Rupee, winner of the Manikato, is $5.00 with Slade Power the only other runner at a single figure price in early markets at $7.00.
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1. BUFFERING – D Browne (1)
Returned from a spell with a typically tough win in the G1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley before, over the same course and distance, running sixth (0.6 lengths) in a blanket finish in the G1 Manikato Stakes. Sat second last start after eventual winner Lankan Rupee crossed him and didn’t look to be travelling well rounding the turn but he is such a bulldog of a horse that he just kept coming. Last start at Flemington was when he won this race last year, jumping from gate one, when coming off a second in the Moir and victory in the Manikato and bound to give his all again Saturday.
2. LANKAN RUPEE – C Schofield (11)
After copping some criticism for his first two rides back on the champion sprinter this campaign, which saw him run narrow seconds in both the Listed McEwan Stakes and G1 Moir Stakes to Angelic Light and Buffering respectively, jockey Craig Newitt took no chances in the G1 Manikato Stakes. He shot the son of Redoute’s Choice out of wide barrier, riding him hard to find the lead. Despite having had enough on the line and a wall of horses charging at him, the Mick Price trained gelding held on tenaciously. Won his last two up the Flemington straight, including an impressive 2.5 length win in the G1 Newmarket Handicap defeating Spirit Of Boom, and has drawn perfectly in gate eleven.
3. TEMPLE OF BOOM – T Harrison (9)
The old boy found a new lease on life during the Queensland carnival and looks to have maintained that form in three runs back from a spell. Chased home exciting sprinter Chautauqua when second (2.5 lengths) first up in the Bobbie Lewis Quality before drawing the wrong part of the track when fifth (6 lengths) to the same horse in the Gilgai Stakes three weeks later. He was then in a skirmish earlier on in the Manikato before running sixth (0.5 length) to Lankan Rupee. Finished well to run fifth in the race last year and whilst he does enjoy the straight, his last four attempts at G1 level over this course have seen him finish unplaced.
4. MOMENT OF CHANGE – L Nolen (2)
Given eight weeks off after suffering an injury in the G1 Memsie Stakes which saw him finish last and prior to his return in the G1 Manikato Stakes, trainer Peter Moody was bullish about his chances of running a bold race and so he did. From a wide draw he settled back in the field before sweeping home wide to run eighth (0.8 lengths) from the winner. Ran third in this race last year after running fourth (0.6 lengths) in the Manikato and can only be fitter for having had the recent run. Will get a cart behind Buffering who has drawn one.
5. SLADE POWER – W Lordan (4)
European sprinter who comes to Australian with the imposing record of ten wins from nineteen starts, including his last three in a row. The son of Dutch Art most recent run was in the G1 July Cup (1200m), sixteen weeks ago now, where, under the steadier of 60kgs and again a field of twelve opponents, he recorded a strong 1.5 lengths win finishing hard from mid-field. Like Flemington, the July Cup is a straight course and the six year old stallion’s form over the past twelve months has been faultless. UK Jockey Wayne Lordan had a winner up the straight on Cup Day.
6. SIDESTEP – J McDonald (5)
The 4yo stallion comes into this race first up off a twenty-three week spell with two barrier trials under his belt, the most recent of which resulted in a strong win over Kencella and Terravista in good time. First up reads well having run a narrow second in the Listed Fireball Stakes (1100m) last campaign and sixth (3 lengths) to Zoustar over this course and distance in last season’s Coolmore Stud Stakes. Has been set specifically for this race but will find it much harder than his previous fresh runs.
7. REBEL DANE – C Williams (8)
For the third consecutive time this campaign, the Gary Portelli trained galloper finished within a neck of the winner when running a luckless fourth to Lankan Rupee in the G1 Manikato Stakes a fortnight ago. He drew an inside gate and was caught behind a wall of horse as the field straightened for home before diving through late to narrowly miss. It was a similar scenario in the start prior when finishing a head away (3rd) from Buffering in the G1 Moir Stakes. Hasn’t had much luck in either of his recent starts but maps well here from the draw which should see him get a nice run in behind the dominant speed. On recent efforts, appears to be value at $17.00.
8. FAMOUS SEAMUS – T Clark (7)
Went within a head of claiming his second G1 victory in the past six months when finishing an unlucky third (head) to Lankan Rupee in the G1 Manikato Stakes. As it was argued by his Jockey Tim Clark in the Steward’s room after he fired in a protest, interference at the start saw him settle back further than he would have hoped for and in a seemingly hopeless position on the turn, with no way through a bunched field. He was climbing over heels before a run opened up late, a fraction too late as it turned out, and he dove through late. Won the G2 Premiere Stakes at his start prior and going as well as he ever has.
9. TERRAVISTA – J Bowman (6)
Measured up to WFA G1 company very well in his first attempt, running a fantastic fifth (long neck) to Lankan Rupee in the Manikato Stakes. He settled midfield last run and angled out at the top of the straight to have clear running and was closing well. That was his first start at outside of NSW and only the second time in his past ten starts that the son of Captain Rio has finished outside of the placings. He’ll be better suited to Flemington, should be able to tuck in behind the speed as they come up the straight and is sure to figure prominently again.
10. CHAUTAUQUA – D Dunn (3)
The Encosta De Lago gelding has been ultra-impressive in recorded his two wins from as many starts this campaign, the most recent of which was a demolition job on ten competitors in the G2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m). He drew the inside gate, similar to what he has done here, and fell in behind the field as they may there were up the straight. When let go at the 200m, as he did in his previous start the G3 Bobbie Lewis – again up the Flemington straight, he accelerating in devastating fashion, careering away to win by a comfortable four lengths. Step up to G1 and WFA for the first time but on current efforts, cannot say he won’t easily measure up.
11. CLUSTER – D Oliver (12)
Finished a shade too strong for Bull Point when claiming the G2 Theo Marks (1400m) by a head two starts ago before running a good fifth (2.8 lengths) in the G1 Rupert Clark Stakes (1400m) seven weeks ago. Got a long way back from the widest gate in the Rupert Clarke but was working home well, weaving his way between horses closer to the fence. In solid form this prep and improving with every run but the WFA conditions and a crack field will make this a tough challenge for him.
12. DREIFONTEIN – V Duric (10)
Draw wide and get well back in the Caulfield Sprint (1200m) first up from a spell, finishing sixth (1.7 lengths) to Miracles Of Life before chasing home boom colt Deep Field in the Tab.com.au Stakes (1200m) last Saturday. Honest mare who is the winner of the G1 Goodwood Handicap earlier this year but this is a step up again being a WFA race and may find a few too strong for her.
13. PLATELET – B Melham (13)
First up in the Schillaci Stakes (1000m), the multiple G1 winner mare was a touch unlucky not to add another feature race to her resume when finishing well to run second (1 length) to Rubick. She then lined up in the G1 Manikato Stakes and although finishing second to last, was within two lengths from the winner Lankan Rupee after having to circle the field from her wide draw. Drawn wide here too but that can be an advantage up the straight course and she’ll appreciate the hot tempo up front. As honest as they come and any sting out of the track will further enhance her chances of filling a place.
RACE OVERVIEW –
What a race! Will they split? Converge in the centre of the track? It’s hard to line them up but Chautauqua has won on either side of the track in the past month – both times in scintillating fashion. He looks a straight track specialist and will be hard to hold out. Rebel Dane should get a nice sit in behind the Lankan Rupee from the jump. He has been beaten a head and neck by him in the past two starts and seems generous value at $21.00. It’ll be worth the remembering the lesson learned from this race last year and never underestimate Buffering. He has finished outside of the placings twice from seven starts up the straight, all but one of those races not in G1 company.
- REBEL DANE
- LANKAN RUPEE