Spring racing continues with a Moonee Valley double-header this weekend, starting with the Group 1 Manikato Stakes on Friday night. Pro-punter Cameron O’Brien previews the big race.
This week’s preview focuses on the G1 1200m Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley, this Friday night. Obviously the Cox Plate is the big race of the weekend, but there’s no great point previewing that, barring accidents Winx will win again by as far as she did last year in all likelihood.
That paragraph above is what I wrote as my first paragraph in the 2017 Manikato. Nothing has changed 12 months later so I thought I’d use it again!
The past few winners have been:
And my speed map is:
I am working on the best ground being near rail, and therefore on pace advantaged generally, as MV has been a lot lately. This makes it tough for the swoopers drawn wide, if it does play this way.
And I am VERY keen on US NAVY FLAG, who I price at $3.10, and is $6.50 best in markets currently. He will certainly be a KeyBet for my service. He has the world’s best rider on board, on his time form figures he is better than every runner in this field and he needs a drier track, not the bog track he faced in the Everest. Handling MV is the query but again he has the world’s best rider to help that.
SUNLIGHT is a nice horse on the up. If US NAVY FLAG weren’t in the race I’d be extremely keen on her.
I’ll likely have a little something on INVINCIBLE STAR, she maps perfectly also on pace and is big odds at nearly 20/1.
Here is my runner by runner description:
#1 BRAVE SMASH
Has a top of 117, last Autumn in the Newmarket. Looked to be on track for that with a really solid 113 in the Moir here 1000m a few weeks ago, then just did not handle the heavy for the Everest LST. He’ll be somewhere midfield and need to come wide which is not ideal here.
Will also have to come from midfield somewhere and from the gate may be wide, though I have him slotting in at the moment. Has a best of 116 and looked to have ability for higher at one stage, but prefers further for his top. Would like a run on (rail off) pattern but that’s unlikely.
Big Mal is first up for a year and is a 7yo now. Used to be a 118 horse when he was flying however not sure how he’s going, and they rarely maintain their peak form at 7 and older.
#4 VOODOO LAD
Also a 7yo now but is at least racing and in OK form. Went to best with a 115 at 1200m Flem three runs back, has worked home well from well back over 1100m twice since, the 1200m does suit but another who may not be suited by the pattern. Unbeaten track and trip though.
#5 JUNGLE EDGE
An 8yo who grows another leg when it is wet, which it won’t be. Best dry figure in recent times is 111 and that’ll be short of the job.
#6 SPIRIT OF VALOR
Overseas runner who was excellent behind Ball of Muscle in the Schillaci, rating 115 which is equal to his OS best, and may be able to improve more yet. The barrier is a massive problem, drawn the outside and likely to be wide, with an anticipated inside on pace pattern that’s no help.
#7 INTELLIGENCE CROSS
Forgive first up, missed the start and never in it, still OS best is only 110 and that’s not likely to be enough.
#8 U S NAVY FLAG
Forget the Everest run, was far too wet for him. At his previous run in July he rated 120 over 1200m, that makes him the best horse in this race. Drawn to be in the right part of the track and has the world’s best jockey on!
#9 FLEET REVIEW
Fair first run in Aus, went 106 coming from back. Has an OS best of 114 and is lightly raced, but will likely be back again and from the gate may end up having to come wide.
Loves MV and racing well, just failed over 1000m first up behind Nature Strip and no luck LST. Drawn to get the right run, has a best of 112 and gets chance to do it.
Gets a great run on pace but her best so far is 108 and though I think she may be able to do more like 111, she’s still going to need more than that in all likelihood.
Spright gets WB and runs on, as he did first up here LST behind Viddora. Will be back and wide is very likely a big problem
#13 INVINCIBLE STAR
Lightly raced 4yo mare with a current best of 111 but I think she’s got the ability to do 115. Gets a VG run on pace, some ? The poor run LST but has had four weeks off. Could be a rapid improver, she’ll definitely be in the right part of the track too.
Super talented filly on the up, haven’t seen her best yet, 108 LST and did that comfortably, she looks a natural 113 to me, I’ve brought her back just a little but she gets the ideal run and at WFA she gets a lot of weight. Will be hard to run down for sure, if she drifted out a bit further I’d be keen to save on her.