Despite his recent Group One win over the 1400 metres at Caulfield, the Tony McEvoy-trained Manuel remains well down the pecking order in early markets on the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield.
That does not faze McEvoy who is confident the last-start C F Orr Stakes winner can make his mark again in Saturday’s weight-for-age Futurity (1400m) which has attracted nine individual Group One winners among the 12-horse field.
Manuel dictated terms in front to post an upset in the weight-for-age Orr on February 9 at $21, holding out Kementari, Land Of Plenty and Brave Smash among others.
Manuel opened $26 in an early final field market for the Futurity on Wednesday and trimmed slightly to $23 with star Godolphin mare Alizee the $2.60 favourite.
Five horses who finished behind Manuel in the Orr are above him in the early market.
“They are dismissing him at their own peril,” McEvoy said.
“He was very strong through that 1400 metres second-up so I haven’t done much with him. I’ve just kept him sweet and happy and in the same spot.
“He’s really bright and well.
“He hasn’t gone backwards, and he might have even got a bit better.”
The Orr Stakes was Manuel’s first attempt at a Group One race at his 23rd start and his performance did not shock his trainer.
“We were a little bit bullish about him,” McEvoy said.
“His first-up run in the Australia Stakes was very good and he had improved out of that.
“We thought we had a sniff of a chance in the race and that’s how it turned out.
“I told the ownership group before his first start as a two-year-old in the Maribyrnong Trial that I thought we had a Group One horse on our hands.
“It sadly took him until five to realise it, but he has got there.”
Land Of Plenty, equal second with Kementari in the Orr, races for the Peter and Paul Snowden stable for the first time on Saturday and was second favourite on Wednesday at $6 while Brave Smash, a close fourth in the Orr, has blinkers on for the first time this campaign and was next in line at $7.
Brave Smash is aiming for back-to-back Futurity wins.