A perfect preparation for Bel Sprinter has boosted the confidence of Mornington trainer Jason Warren leading into tonight’s Group 1 $500,000 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.
Bel Sprinter will be having his third run this campaign and Warren says that the Bel Esprit gelding is in tip top condition to take on Queensland’s number one sprinter Buffering at Group 1 level.
“This is his target race so that’s why I was happy to run the horse at Flemington to improve his fitness and I thought he had to have the run at 1200m,” Warren said.
“When horses run a career best first-up then generally can be a bit flat second-up.”
Bel Sprinter performed at his best first-up winning the Group 3 $150,000 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 15 in fast time then Warren said the five year old was the victim of the second-up syndrome when fifth as favourite to Hallowell Belle in the Group 2 $220,000 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on October 6.
Bel Sprinter will be chasing his first Group 1 success and Warren believes he is ready to tackle Buffering who is also looking for his first Group 1 victory after being placed on seven occasions at the top level.
“Buffering is not bullet proof, he’ll know we are there and his racing style lends itself to us so we’ll be able to stalk him,” Warren said.
The Manikato has brought together a top quality group of first class sprinters including Sea Siren who defeated Buffering in the Group 1 $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben on May 26.
The John O’Shea trained mare is first-up since the finishing ninth to Mid Summer Music in the Group 1 $1m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 9 and the Randwick trainer has given Sea Siren two barrier trials leading into tonight’s contest.
“Definitely there’s improvement in her, she has done everything off one prep and I’m very happy with her,” O’Shea said.
Trainer Robert Heathcote is pleased to have Buffering in top order for his chance to get rid of the Group 1 bridesmaid tag after having a frustrating winter due to injury.
“We’re 100 per cent confident we’ve got him where we want him,” Heathcote said.
“He took considerable improvement out of the Moir into the Schillaci and I’m hoping we’ll see the same type of improvement into the Manikato if that is at all possible.”
Buffering will also be having his third run back after winning the Group 2 $300,000 Spotless Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 28, then backed up with a win in the Group 2 $220,000 Schweppes Schillaci Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on October 13.
Buffering is at $1.95 to win his first Group 1 race with Sea Siren at $6 and the Robert Smerdon trained Lone Rock is next in the markets at $8.50 with Bel Sprinter at $14 and Ready To Rip on the $15 mark.
Leading Victorian trainer Peter Moody is also very unbeat about the chances of Ready To Rip who chased home Buffering in the Moir Stakes.
“There’s not much wrong with his form if you have a good look at it, so he’s in there with a shot,” Moody said.
“He’s had four starts for us for two wins and two weight-for-age placings, and last time behind Buffering he was held up and flashed late.”