Ron Leemon is too busy enjoying the journey with Golden Rose winner Manawanui to feel any pressure ahead of Saturday’s Group Two Stan Fox Stakes.
Manawanui was at the prohibitive odds of $1.18 with TAB Sportsbet on Thursday and will face just four rivals at Rosehill following the scratching of filly Choice Words who will instead contest the Reginald Allen Handicap.
The small gathering doesn’t hold any fears for Leemon given Manawanui beat just five rivals to win the Golden Rose.
Many praised the ride of Glyn Schofield in the Group One and Leemon says the former South African jockey will again be pivotal in the Stan Fox Stakes (1500m).
“He’s the best horse in the race, obviously,” Leemon said of Manawanui.
“If Glyn rides him with a positive attitude, which I know he will, he should win.
“If he doesn’t win it will just be because of bad luck and every now and then you do get a longshot winning these races.”
Manawanui’s main goal is the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and Leemon will use the Stan Fox as a springboard into the Group One feature.
While both Smart Missile and Helmet will have their final Guineas lead-up runs at Caulfield on Saturday – in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) and Guineas Prelude (1400m) respectively – Leemon is content with his decision to stay closer to home.
“My reasoning was that if he went to Caulfield he’d probably get a bit of weight (in the Guineas Prelude),” Leemon said.
“I thought they might get a full field and it could be a rough-house race so rather than take that risk I thought we’d come here (Rosehill).
“It’s set weights so he gets a weight advantage and Sydney racing loses too many of its stars down south.”
Manawanui is indeed emerging as one of Sydney’s star three-year-olds in what looks to be a stellar crop.
He is unbeaten this campaign and followed an explosive first-up performance in the Up And Coming Stakes with the Golden Rose win.
Leemon said his charge had improved further but would still have more to give at his next start in the Caulfield Guineas.
“He’s improved but he’s not wound up, his run on Saturday will tighten him up for his grand final,” Leemon said.
All being well after the Stan Fox, Manawanui will leave for Melbourne on Monday to prepare for the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 8.
He is on the fourth line of betting for the Group One at $6.50, behind only Smart Missile ($3.30), Moment Of Change ($5.50) and Helmet ($6).