The Group 1 Sportingbet Manikato Stakes will be run as a million dollar race this year following prizemoney increases announced by the Moonee Valley Racing Club over the weekend.
The Manikato Stakes joins the Newmarket Handicap in the Autumn and the Patinack Farm Classic in the Spring, both over 1200m at Flemington, as million dollar open age sprints run on Melbourne racetracks.
Run on the Friday night, the first day for of the Sportingbet Cox Plate two day carnival on October 25 and 26, the 1200m weight for age race always attracts a top line sprint field and was last year by the John O’Shea trained Sea Siren who is currently in England preparing for the Group 1 £500,000 The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6 furlongs) at Royal Ascot on June 22.
The Manikato Stakes prizemoney increase follows closely on the heels of the A.J. Moir Stakes (1200m) on September 27 which was recently elevated from Group 2 to Group 1 status and will carry prizemoney of $450,000.
The race honours super sprinter Manikato and was named after him after winning five consecutive William Reid Stakes from 1979 to 1983.
The William Reid was elevated to Group 1 status in in 1987 and is run in the Autumn while the Manikato Stakes is run in the Spring.
MVRC chairman Bob Scarborough welcomed the prizemoney increase to the Manikato Stakes and said that it will hopefully add a bit more glamour to the Cox Plate Carnival by attracting a high quality field including overseas competitors with Hong Kong’s top sprinter Lucky Nine already being touted as a runner this year.
“This year’s prizemoney increase of the Sportingbet Manikato Stakes emphasises Moonee Valley Racing Club’s desire for the two-day Sportingbet Cox Plate Carnival to become a truly international racing event as we aim to attract the best sprinters and middle-distance thoroughbreds throughout the world,” Scarborough said.
“This significant prizemoney increase also further complements Moonee Valley’s commitment to night racing following the Asian Pattern Committee’s recent elevation of the weight-for-age A.J. Moir Stakes to Group 1 status.
“Moonee Valley Racing Club is also happy to announce a prizemoney increase of $150,000 for the Moir Stakes, taking prizemoney to $450,000, which will be run on the season launch of night racing on AFL Grand Final eve.”
Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, was also quick to applaud the increase in prizemoney for the two Spring Carnival races saying that it would further strengthen the major racing Carnival on the Australian Racing Calendar.
“The elevation of the Sportingbet Manikato Stakes to a $1 million race will underpin growth in Moonee Valley’s new Cox Plate Eve meeting and further strengthens our feature race calendar during the Spring Racing Carnival,” Carpentar said.
“One of our objectives is to expand international participation across a number of feature races during the Spring Racing Carnival and the fact we now have the Manikato Stakes and the $1 million Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington 15 days later means we have an attractive offering for international sprinters.
“The announcement now brings to three the number of $1 million open-age sprints in Victoria, autumns Newmarket Handicap is the other, and follows the upgrade of three other Spring features; the Moir Stakes, Memsie Stakes and Makybe Diva Stakes to Group 1 status this year.”
As well as multiple Group 1 winner Sea Siren winning last year, the Manikato Stakes has been won in recent years by Darley’s Golden Slipper winner Sepoy in 2011 and super sprinter Hay List the year before.