Trainer Ron Leemon has no regrets about ducking the Cox Plate with three-year-old Manawanui with his sights firmly on Saturday’s Victoria Derby.
The gelding tightened his grip on the staying Classic when he cruised to victory in the Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Unlike his previous raceday appearances, Manawanui was settled back in the field by Glyn Schofield to make sure he was comfortable over the distance.
But Leemon knew from his trackwork that Manawanui would have no problems and said the 2500 metres of the Derby would also be within his grasp.
“It won’t worry him,” Leemon told Sky Sports Radio.
“No matter what the pace is, Glyn will be able to make him drop the bit.
“I’m just hoping he’s still got the sprint at the end of 2500 metres.
“I was confident the way he works that he would get the distance.
“He loves to settle behind horse or amongst horses.
“There were no thoughts of the Cox Plate. We;ve got next year to worry about that.”
Leemon said Manawanui had pulled up well from Saturday’s Group Two race and had had a light morning.
Helmet, who held out Manawanui to win the Caulfield Guineas (1600m), was sent out the $2.80 favourite in Saturday’s Cox Plate but was found wanting over the 2040 metres, finishing eighth, 4-1/2 lengths from the winner Pinker Pinker.
He won’t be going to the Derby but Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation has an able contender in Induna, winner of last week’s Geelong Classic.
Induna was not among the original Derby entries so an $82,500 late entry fee is required.
Manawanui was at $2.25 to win the Derby with TAB Sportsbet on Sunday with Induna at $6.
Sheikh Mohammed will be at Flemington on Saturday to see Sepoy in action for the first time when the colt runs in the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
Modun and Lost In The Moment represent the sheikh’s Godolphin team the following Tuesday in the Melbourne Cup.