The 2014 Manikato Stakes field has been released and the majority of the leading sprinters in Australia are set to contest the Group 1 event at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Buffering recorded his maiden win at the highest level of racing when he took out the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) last year and the popular gelding will have the chance to join Spark Of Life (2004 and 2005) and Spinning Hill (2002 and 2003) as the only horses in the past thirty years to win the race back-to-back.
The Mossman gelding started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a start to finish win in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 26 and he is set to take up the running when he jumps from barrier four in the Manikato Stakes on Saturday.
Lankan Rupee was upset by Buffering in the Moir Stakes and he will have the chance to turn-the-tables on his rival in the Manikato Stakes on Friday.
The Mick Price-trained galloper stamped himself as the best sprinter in the world when he recorded three wins in impressive fashion during the 2014 Autumn Racing Carnival, but has been upset in both the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) and Moir Stakes this preparation.
There are still question marks over whether Lankan Rupee performs at his best on the tight-turning Moonee Valley circuit and his chances of returning to winning form received a blow when he was allocated barrier nine at the Manikato Stakes barrier draw.
Both Rebel Dane and Moment Of Change have had disrupted spring preparations, but will have the chance to return to winning form after being included in the Manikato Stakes field.
Rebel Dane miss the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) due to injury before he returned to racing with a close third in the Moir Stakes, while Moment Of Change will be returning to the races for the first time since he suffered an injury during the running of the Memsie Stakes.
One of the most interesting runners in the 2014 Manikato Stakes field is Joe Pride-trained Terravista, who is yet to suffer defeat in a race shorter than 1500 metres.
Terravista returned to racing with a comfortable two lengths victory in the Group 2 Show County Quality (1200m) at Royal Randwick on August 23 and he was labeled by Pride as the best sprinter in the world after he took out the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick on September 20, but meets a substantially stronger field in the Manikato Stakes,
Another horse that is taking winning form into the Manikato Stakes is Group 1 winning gelding Famous Seamus, while Platelet (second behind Rubick in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1000m)) and Bounding (second behind Chautauqua in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m)) are also taking strong form lines into the race.
The connections of Not Listenin’tome elected to pay the late entry fee to get the Dylan Thomas gelding into the Manikato Stakes field and they will be hoping that the four-year-old can produce an improved effort on Friday after he finished a disappointing sixth first-up in the Schillaci Stakes.
The Manikato Stakes field is rounded out by veteran sprinter Temple Of Boom (barrier eight), Tony McEvoy-trained Iconic (barrier two) and McEwen Stakes winner Angelic Light (barrier six).
Team Hawkes elected against runner Chautauqua or Deep Field in the Manikato Stakes and Chautauqua has been saved for the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m), while they are yet to decide on the immediate future of Deep Field.