A wet and soggy Warwick Farm racecourse awaits the arrival of Manawanui tomorrow when he runs in the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes for three year olds.
Despite the ever worsening conditions and an imposing field of rivals, it’s a race he must perform in to repay the faith of trainer Ron Leemon.
Earlier in the year Manawanui was in tremendous form, he placed third on debut at Canterbury before returning to the same track to record back to back victories.
He would have been well suited to the two year old series up in Brisbane but connections elected to spell him with the spring carnival in mind.
They’ll soon find out if that patience has paid off in what will be a very challenging 1300m race tomorrow.
His form warrants being a top pick in the race and while Leemon agrees he’s a winning chance, he warns that they are being careful not to bring the horse along too quickly.
“He’s never been what I would call 100 per cent hard fit and I don’t want that until we get close to Melbourne, otherwise there will be nothing left of him,” he said.
“But he’s fit enough to win this and I think he will win. It’s only going to be bad luck in running or if the track gets too heavy. He’s won on slow so he gives the indication he should handle it.”
If Leemon is correct in his evaluation that the horse still has a way to go improvement wise then Manawanui could be very special on the basis of his most recent trial.
He won that race by a massive 10 length margin, in the process beating Group 1 champions Black Piranha and My Kingdom Of Fife.
“Glynn (Schofield) said he just did it himself,” Leemon said.
“He shook him up at the 600m, he came around the bend three in front and then kept on cruising.
“I just couldn’t get over how he kept on moving away from them.
“Of course, you hope he doesn’t leave it on the track but he doesn’t appear to have. It looked spectacular and I just hope he can reproduce it again on Saturday.”
Leemon is hoping the horse can turn into a solid middle distance type and his spring plans reflect that ambition with the Spring Champion Stakes on October 1st the likely target.
“I think he will get 2000m because he will settle,” he said.
“Two of his runs he came from the rear of the field. His mother won over a mile and his sire was a mile-2000m horse.”
One race they will not be targeting is the $1 million Golden Rose at Rosehill Gardens.
Part of this reason is the fact the horse isn’t nominated, if they were to enter now connections would need to cough up an extra $50,000.
Given the patient strategy they’ve already used for the horse that’s unlikely to happen as they sit contently waiting for their time later in the carnival.
Some of the challenges Manawuni faces tomorrow in the Up and Coming Stakes include Win For Wilson, Double Ranga, Irish Times and the consistent Queenian.