Manawanui Back In Work Ahead Of Doncaster Tilt

Star three-year-old Manawanui is back in work after a short spell following his Victoria Derby run in October.

The Oratorio gelding finished sixth in the $1.5 million Derby, after an otherwise incredibly successful spring racing campaign.

Manawanui first made a name for himself when winning the Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes by an incredible four and a half lengths in what was his first start as a three-year-old in August.

Connections of the horse then opted to pay the $50,000 late entry fee to have him run in the $1 million Golden Rose, which he subsequently won ahead of red hot favourite Smart Missile.

Manawanui went on to win two more Group starts and finish a close second to Helmet in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas.

The fairy-tale story of Manawanui has blossomed since trainer Ron Leemon blew his budget to buy the horse for $45,000 at the 2010 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale.

“I’m fairly conservative with what I spend and I put aside $25,000 to put aside and syndicate,” Leemon said.

“I hadn’t picked him out, I didn’t know too much about Oratorios at that time.

“He just had a certain presence about him.”

Leemon is now looking towards a short autumn campaign with Manawanui.

“I haven’t picked out a set race to start him off with,” Leemon said.

“I’ve got to look towards the end of February at this stage.

“I would perhaps trial him at the end of January or the start of February.”

Leemon has pinpointed the $2 million Doncaster Handicap next April as a likely target for the horse.

“The Doncaster is obviously one of those in the back of my mind,” he said.

The trainer will give Manawanui a short five run campaign before spelling him in preparation for a shot at the $3 million Cox Plate next spring.

Manawanui bypassed the Cox Plate this year in favour of the Victoria Derby, due to the fact that Leemon believed he wasn’t ready for such a tough test.

“I want to give him maybe five runs and put him away,” Leemon said.

“My long term aim has always been the Cox Plate.”


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