Trainer Ron Leemon says the classy Manawanui will be able to take advantage of a middle draw and race just off the pace in the Victoria Derby.
The three-year-old remains the dominant $2.30 favourite with TAB Sportsbet for Saturday’s 2500-metre Classic after he drew barrier eight in a capacity field of 16 and two emergencies.
In a change of tactics Manawanui came from near last in a small field to win last Saturday’s Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley and Leemon wants another patient ride from Glyn Schofield.
“I am quite convinced he is a horse who likes to settle and always said from day one he was a better horse ridden from behind,” Leemon said.
“From that barrier on Saturday I hope to see him sitting fifth or sixth, one off the fence and going to sleep.”
He said that scenario would enable Manawanui his chance to unleash a winning run with his electrifying sprint.
The Darley-owned Induna, who was a late entry for the Derby after winning last week’s Geelong Classic, was the only horse to firm in betting after the barrier draw.
Drawn in gate 12 he tightened from $6 to $5.50 and is a clear second favourite ahead of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Niagara who has the outside barrier and blew from $7.50 to $8.50.
Sangster has barrier nine and remains a solid fourth pick at $12 despite a disappointing track gallop at Flemington on Tuesday morning.
“I’m happy with that gate,” trainer Trent Busuttin said.
“It certainly wasn’t great work on Tuesday but he pulled up fine, his blood was fine and he ate up.
“I just hope he had an off day.”
Hugh Bowman replaces James McDonald on Sangster after the Savabeel gelding finished a luckless second to Sabrage in the Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) on Caulfield Cup day.
Sabrage ($13), who worked impressively against Sangster at Flemington, drew barrier 16 but trainer Mike Moroney is growing in confidence about his chances of winning a third Victoria Derby.
Damien Oliver has ridden the colt at his last two starts in the Stutt and the Norman Robinson and was beaming after Tuesday’s workout which was the horse’s best yet.
“Ollie will work it out,” Moroney said of the wide gate.
“The barrier draw doesn’t help us but we go there with a fair bit of confidence about the horse, to be honest.”
In the last 25 years, 13 winners have started from gates one to nine but only three horses from wider than barrier nine have won in the last 12 years, the most recent Lion Tamer last year from barrier 14.
Caulfield Cup-winning trainer Leon Macdonald will try and add the Derby to his spring collection with Perfect Punch ($15) from barrier 13.
Macdonald won the 2008 Derby with Rebel Raider who, like Perfect Punch, finished third in the Geelong Classic.
First emergency Mustang ($61) has the inside barrier on Saturday, if he gets a start, while Geelong Classic fourth placegetter Mr Chez ($51) has barrier two.