The Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley in the Spring will again attract the attention of Newcastle trainer Darren Smith for his Group 1 winner Atomic Force.

Atomic Force

Atomic Force's target for the spring will be the Manikato Stakes - photo © Taron Clarke

Smith said that Atomic Force is highly likely to follow last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival course which saw the six year old finish sixth to Sepoyin last year’s $500,000 Group 1 sprint.

“We will probably stick to the same pattern as last year,” Smith said.

Smith was ready to map out a Spring program after Atomic Force completed a barrier trial at Rosehill on Tuesday and has selected the Listed Slickpix Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield next month as his kick off point, the same as last year.

“The Slickpix is a set weights race around Caulfield and then we will just take it step by step,” Smith said.

Atomic Force then went on to run third in the Group 3 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 10 before being unplaced in the Manikato.

Smith had then planned to run in the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin in December but had to make new arrangements when the Hong Kong Jockey Club failed to include him in the invitation’s list.

‘Of course it is disappointing to miss out on Hong Kong, but it is not the end of the world,” Smith said at the time.

All was not lost and Smith mapped out a New Zealand program that saw Atomic Force pick up his second Group 1 victory when he took out the NZ$200,000 Blandford Lodge Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on January 1.

The 2011 Group 1 Galaxy winner was then runner up to Guiseppina in the Group 1 NZ$300,000 Telegraph Handicap (1200m) at Trentham on January 21.

Smith was happy to miss the Brisbane Winter Carnival and a possible trip to Singapore to give the Danehill Dancer gelding plenty of time to completely recover from minor injuries he received while in New Zealand.

‘A good break will ensure he is right for the spring. I believe he will be right up to the best sprint races in Melbourne,:” Smith said.

‘The horse did suffer a slight strain to a leg, and although it is not bad I would rather not risk it.”

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.