Trainer Ron Leemon wants odds-on favourite Manawanui ridden quietly early if circumstances permit in Saturday’s Mitchelton Wines Vase at Moonee Valley.
The gallant Caulfield Guineas runner-up to Cox Plate favourite Helmet is stepping up to 2040m for the first time, not having raced beyond 1600m.
The stable notified Racing Victoria stewards the intention was to “come out of the gates in a negative manner if circumstances permit”.
The Oratorio gelding, to again be ridden by Glyn Schofield who has ridden him in four of his five wins, has drawn barrier four in the small field of six and completely dominates the betting at $1.18, albeit having drifted from $1.12 with TAB Sportsbet.
Leemon said he had no regrets about not nominating Manawanui for Saturday’s $3 million Cox Plate (2040m) and has him heading towards the $1.5 million Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington next Saturday.
Manawanui is $3.40 favourite for the Derby ahead of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Niagara at $5.50, Geelong Classic winner Induna at $7.50 with Sangster at $9 and Norman Robinson Stakes winner Sabrage at $11.
Manawanui was one of the star workers at the Valley on Tuesday morning, beating triple Group One winner Yosei by four lengths in a workout in which he was timed to run his final 400 metres in 23.46 seconds, the fastest final split of the morning.
“He’s very relaxed. I just wanted him to have a good blow-out. He’s done a bit too well since the Caulfield Guineas,” Leemon said.
“He looks in good nick but we’re going over a bit more ground so we’ve got to give him a bit more work.”
“The Vase looks a good race for him and the Derby can be his grand final.”
Manawanui has won five races and hasn’t finished out of a place in seven starts.
After winning the $1 million Group One Golden Rose (1400m), he made it five straight with his easy win in the Group Two Stan Fox Stakes (1500m), both at Rosehill last month, before going down by a half-neck to Helmet in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
Collar, winner of the Listed Poseidon Stakes (1400m) at Flemington two starts back, is second pick in the betting at $5 with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Zabeel gelding Power Broker at $21.