Irish Times was trounced by Manawanui first-up but Clarry Conners will gauge the gelding’s future prospects by taking on the star three-year-old again on Saturday.
Irish Times was left in Manawanui’s wake in the Up And Coming Stakes (1300m) and the subsequent Golden Rose winner is the raging $1.16 favourite for the Group Two Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
Conners knows Irish Times has his work cut out for him but took positives out of Irish Times’ recent win in restricted grade ahead of his return to stakes company.
Irish Times overcome a checkered passage in the straight to win a 1400m Class Two during the Newcastle Cup carnival.
“It was a pretty good win last start,” Conners said.
“It was only a class two but it was against older horses and he was pretty impressive. He would have won by a couple of lengths had he got out earlier.
“I know there is a top horse in this race (Manawanui) but there’s nothing else for this bloke.
“I took him up to Newcastle because it was 1400 metres and I didn’t want to go up to 1900 metres (on Saturday) because he’s not ready for that.”
Conners said Irish Times was a chance to head to Melbourne later in the spring but his performance in the Stan Fox would tell him more.
“The 1500 metres suits me, this race used to be 1400 but I’m pretty happy it’s now 1500,” Conners said.
“Of course Manawanui is the horse to beat. He’s one of the best three-year-olds so it will give us a guide on where we should be going, or where we shouldn’t.”
Queensland trainer Brian Smith will also use Manawanui as a measuring stick for his lightly-raced colt State Of Wealth.
State Of Wealth has been impressive winning his past two starts in Brisbane over sprint trips and steps up to 1500m for the first time on Saturday.
Smith admitted he would have liked State Of Wealth to have another run under his belt before stepping up to stakes company but ran out of time.
He is still in the mix for the Caulfield Guineas and is a chance to go down that path if he can make a race of it with Manawanui, who is the fourth pick in Caulfield Guineas markets.
“He is still maturing and he is a lovely animal with good ability,” Smith said of State Of Wealth.
“We’re behind the eight-ball but I had to bring him here, they’re only three once.
“We’re here to gauge if the horse should press on to Melbourne or whether we have a little spell and come back for the Magic Millions.”