The Luca Cumani stable has heeded the concerns of local jockeys and resorted to giving Manighar and Drunken Sailor barrier practice two days out from the Caulfield Cup.
The pair jumped out of the starting gates at Werribee on Thursday after stablemates Bauer and Sahara Sun both showed a lack of gate speed at Caulfield last Saturday.
Bauer finished sixth in the Herbert Power Stakes and Sahara Sun was seventh in the Caulfield Stakes.
Cumani’s travelling foreman Charlie Henson said tardiness from the barriers had been a common complaint with regard to the European horses when they race in Australia and that Damien Oliver (Bauer) and Steven Arnold (Sahara Sun) reinforced that opinion.
“We always get the feedback from jockeys that our horses are slow out of the gates and don’t have enough tactical speed to get a position in the race,” Henson said.
“Whether they have it come Saturday I don’t know but at least, from our point of view, we have made an effort to give them a sharpen-up out of the gates.”
Thursday’s barrier practice was eventful with Manighar missing the jump by a half-length and both horses colliding when Drunken Sailor lived up to his name and suddenly veered right.
Despite the waywardness Henson said the change in routine was worthwhile and that Manighar “lacked a little bit of concentration in the gates”.
“At least we’ve got some sort of idea what we’ve got come Saturday,” Henson said.
He said Manighar was a playful horse and was hopeful that he switched on at Caulfield.
“You need to have him fresh and happy,” Henson said.
“That is the way he is at home and the way we want to see him here.
“You want him jumping and leaping around and just being generally a bit playful.”
Manighar finished fifth in last year’s Caulfield Cup and seventh in the Melbourne Cup.
The Melbourne Cup is considered a better race for him than the Caulfield Cup, with his four starts this year all being at 2800 metres or longer.
Three starts ago he finished fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup (4000m) in June and last start was fourth in the Group Two Kergorlay (3000m) in France on August 21.
Drunken Sailor had an inglorious Melbourne spring a year ago, finishing 11th to Americain in the Geelong Cup and 10th to Moudre in the Group Three Queen’s Cup at Flemington.
However this year he has shown improvement, winning twice in seven starts including the Group Three Glorious Stakes (2400m) at Goodwood on July 29.
Henson said Drunken Sailor appeared a better horse despite his last-start third in the March Stakes (2800m), a race he won in 2010.
“He just had too much weight (62.5kg) in this year’s race,” Henson said.
Race tactics will be discussed on Friday and Saturday with Damien Oliver, who rides Manighar, and Dwayne Dunn who partners Drunken Sailor.
“We will sit down and look at what pace there is and where it may come from,” Henson said.
Drunken Sailor has barrier 18 while Manighar has drawn barrier five.
If the four emergencies don’t run they will start from gates 14 and four respectively.
Henson said Manighar’s strength was his stamina while Drunken Sailor had a better turn of foot and needs to come through horses and “have a bit of a fight”.
Manighar would give Oliver a record-equalling fifth Caulfield Cup while Dunn won the 2006 Cup on Tawqeet.