Trainer Ron Leemon and jockey Glyn Schofield have no doubt Manawanui will handle the 2500m of next Saturday’s $1.5 million Victoria Derby following his come from behind win in the Mitchelton Wines Vase.
Leemon had signalled the intention that the Group One Golden Rose winner would be ridden quietly early in Saturday’s Group Two event (2040m) at Moonee Valley which was his first test beyond 1600m.
“With his previous races in mind I just had to give him a little pull on the reins and he popped his head down and went back in behind them,” Schofield said.
“He travelled really sweetly and he was that relaxed that when Hughie (Bowman) took off (aboard Collar) midrace I didn’t want to go after him.
“I knew that was their plan to make it a proper test and I was happy with that because it was going to give me some indication as to how he was going to handle going into next week, the Derby trip.
“I couldn’t pull him up after the run and I was battling to slow him down at the 100-metre mark.
“So if that’s any indication that he’s ready to go further then that’s good enough for me.”
“I’ve been around a long time and I’ve always thought he’s top class and he’s proving it this preparation.”
After settling fifth of the six runners, Manawanui ($1.22 fav) quickly picked up Collar ($6) when asked to go and he went straight past him in the straight to score by 2-1/2 lengths with Scelto ($71) a length away third.
The Oratorio gelding firmed from $3.40 to $2.25 favourite for the Derby with TAB Sportsbet ahead of Niagara at $6.50 and Geelong Classic winner Induna, a late entry, at $7.
Manawanui ran a gallant second to Helmet last start in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and while Helmet went to Saturday’s Cox Plate, Leemon is content with his decision to keep him against his own age and have a shot at next year’s Cox Plate.
Leemon said Manawanui would run the Derby trip and he rates the Peter Snowden-trained Induna as the hardest for him to beat.
Bowman was very happy with the run of the runner-up Collar.
“It was a great effort. The winner just had a bit too much dash for him,” he said.
“He’ll furnish into a nice stayer.”
Dwayne Dunn was also happy with third placegetter Scelto.
“He ran super. He feels good going into the Derby,” he said.