The dream of winning the Group 1 $1.5m Victoria Derby (2500m) is within reach of trainer Ron Leemon after Manawanui drew perfectly today for Saturday’s race.
Manawanui drew barrier eight and if the emergencies are withdrawn he will jump from six.
“I’m very happy, I picked the right hat and I feel the pressure is now off me and now (jockey) Glyn (Schofield).
“I can see Glyn settle the horse in fifth or sixth position during the race and hopefully win from there.”
Bookmakers are taking no chances with the Sydney gelding with $2.30 being offered by TABsportsbet.
They have Induna at $5.50 and Niagara, who drew poorly, $8 with the rest of the 16 horse field at double figure odds.
Last week Leemon had Schofield settle Manawanui back in the field in the Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) to see if the usual front/on-pace runner would relax.
The son of Oratorio (IRE) and Lady Remlap took to it like a duck to water prior to taking care of the Vase field under a hold.
He defeated Collar by two and a half lengths and Leemon is ecstatic with the way Manawanui has come out of the race.
“I am extremely happy with him, I think he is better today than before he ran in the Vase,” he said.
Manawanui worked half pace on Tuesday and will do 2000m at three quarter pace tomorrow.
“We will let him run home the final 400m in 26 or 27 seconds,” Leemon said.
Rain is expected in Melbourne on Friday with a shower or two predicted for Saturday.
Leemon is hoping for a dead rating but points to Manawanui’s imposing record when saying the track condition probably wouldn’t affect its chances.
Manawanui is a winner of six of his eight starts and four at black type, he is undefeated on slow or heavy ground from two starts but has also won in the dry.
There is little doubt the Group 1 Golden Rose winner is the class runner in the Derby and it is his race to lose but Leemon sees dangers.
“I think there are five or six horses on pedigree that have a chance and I particularly think Peter Snowden’s galloper Induna is a danger,” Leemon said.
“The 2500m is a question mark for all runners but my fellow settles well and he has staying lines on his dam’s side.”
“Oratorio’s stock have also been known to get over a bit of ground as well.”
While is all smile with the Leemon stable Mike Moroney and Gai Waterhouse won’t be sharing in barrier draw joy.
Last start Norman Robinson winner Sabrage is in 16 while Niagara, the unlucky runner in the same event, drew worse in 18.
Moroney wasn’t convinced Sabrage (by Charge Forward-Galroof) would get 2500m before the Norman Robinson but was convinced after that effort over 2000m at Caulfield.
The draw in the 16 horse field is likely to see Sabrage settle back further than sixth, the position he settled in the Norman Robinson and his staying prowess will be truly tested.
Niagara settled third in that Caulfield race but from the wide draw is another who is likely to have to settle further back than desired.
Snowden’s Induna hasn’t really got a staying pedigree but seems to enjoy each rise in distance.
He easy won the Geelong Classic (2200m) and though a class question mark hangs over the race, he was impressive.
Drawn in 12 Induna is again likely to settle behind Manawanui in the run.
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||311X11121||MANAWANUI||Ron Leemon||Glyn Schofield||8||55.5kg||108|
|2||67513X0718||ISOPACH||John P Thompson||Joao Moreira||17||55.5kg||84|
|3||1X4132||COLLAR (NZ)||Robert Hickmott||Nicholas Hall||4||55.5kg||80|
|4||1X0431||SABRAGE||Michael Moroney||Damien Oliver||16||55.5kg||88|
|5||10X12832||SANGSTER (NZ)||Trent Busuttin||Hugh Bowman||9||55.5kg||84|
|6||331113||PERFECT PUNCH||Leon Macdonald & Andrew Gluyas||Ms Clare Lindop||13||55.5kg||78|
|7||0X88X37311||INDUNA||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||12||55.5kg||80|
|8||1X43134||COSTLY COMMITMENT||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||6||55.5kg||70|
|9||36X3513493||SCELTO (NZ)||Robbie Laing||Dwayne Dunn||10||55.5kg||66|
|10||42X213||NIAGARA||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||18||55.5kg||74|
|11||3212592||CORNELL||Anthony Freedman||Craig Williams||3||55.5kg||68|
|12||0127||EAGLE COMMAND||Gary Portelli||Dean Yendall||15||55.5kg||67|
|13||9245||ZABEELIONAIRE (NZ)||Leon Corstens||Stephen Baster||5||55.5kg||66|
|14||72X494||I FEEL GOOD||Frankie Stockdale||Brenton Avdulla||11||55.5kg||62|
|15||549X551||RAPIDUS (NZ)||Bart Cummings||Steven Arnold||14||55.5kg||62|
|16||51034||MR CHEZ (NZ)||Graeme & Debbie Rogerson||Michael Rodd||2||55.5kg||64|
|17e||437119||MUSTANG (NZ)||David R Miller||Corey Brown||1||55.5kg||65|
|18e||0X7771||MONSILI||Shane A Edwards||Luke Currie||7||55.5kg||60|