A sprinter-miler campaign is now looking likely for Manawanui over the Spring with trainer Ron Leemon virtually running out of time to prepare the four year old for this year’s Cox Plate.


Manawanui will run out of time to prepare for the Cox Plate - photo © Steve Hart

Manawanui went off his feed after a solid gallop at Warwick Farm over a week ago and Leemon knows he won’t have time to prepare his Group 1 winner for the 2040m of the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 27.

Leemon said that Manawanui has picked up slightly and has started to get back on his feed over the last couple of days, but the Warwick Farm trainer has had to set a new Spring program for the one time Cox Plate hopeful.

“He has picked up a bit,” Leemon said.

“But we don’t know what’s caused it. There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with him.”

“I’ll train him as a sprinter miler if I can’t get him right in the next few weeks.”

“We have pencilled in The Shorts as a starting point but that obviously means the Cox Plate is doubtful.”

Last year’s Group 1 Golden Rose winner, Manawanui was to step out for the first time for the Spring in the Group 2 $175,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm this week but Leemon is concerned with the four year old after taking longer than normal to get over last Saturday’s gallop.

Leemon has now selected the Group 2 $200,000 The Shorts (1200m) at Randwick on September 22 as Manawanui’s Spring starting point and with the Cox Plate looking very unlikely, the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival is now on the agenda.

“That is a race we have seriously looked at,” he said.

“But everything has to go right over the next couple of weeks.”

“It is a concern because he loves his food. With him not eating you can’t put any work into him.”

Manawanui failed to live up to expectation in the Autumn after creating a huge impression in the Spring with a win in the Group 1 $1m Toohey’s New Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill on September 10 last year.

Leemon then ventured to Melbourne and the then three year old was beaten in a photo finish by Darley’s Helmet in the Group 1 $1m Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 8 before scoring as a short priced favourite in the Group 2 $200,000 Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22.

Manawanui was then sent for a spell after finishing sixth to Sangster in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on October 29.

Racegoers failed to see the best of Manawanui in the Autumn when he was beaten three times as favourite, the latest when one and a half  length fifth to smart Victorian filly Mosheen in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnpoint Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Randwick on March 17.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.