Former star three-year-old Manawanui will have the opportunity to turn around his poor form as an older horse when he contests the Group 2 The Shorts (1100m) at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Manawanui was one of the star three-year-old performers during the 2011 Spring Racing Carnival but has not been successful in a race for almost two years.
The Oratorio gelding won the 2011 Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes (1300m), Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m), Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) and Group 2 Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m) before finishing sixth as the clear favourite in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).
He made a promising start to his autumn campaign in 2012, finishing second in both the Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) and Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m), but since then has failed to finish in placings in four subsequent runs.
Trainer Ron Leemon admits that the five-year-olds career has reached a crossroads and his performance in The Shorts this weekend will play a major factor in deciding his racing future.
“It will tell me if I am on the right track with him,” Leemon told AAP.
“We’ll just take things race by race with him.”
Manawanui has not made a public appearance since he finished 12th in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350) in May during the 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, with Leemon electing not to send the Golden Rose winner to an official barrier trial due to financial concerns.
“The cost of trials is exorbitant for owners so I decided not to do that,” Leemon said.
“To trial on your home track is about $350 and to go anywhere else is $500.
“It’s just too expensive so I jump my horses out instead.
“He’s had a couple of good hit-outs and is down to 514 kilograms which is where he needs to be.”
The 2013 edition of The Shorts has drawn a strong field but Leemon is hopeful that Manawanui can produce a fast-finishing and competitive performance.
“There’s a lot of speed in the race and I would expect him to drift back,” the Warwick Farm-based trainer said.
“I would like him somewhere near Sessions and running on late.”