Group 1 winner Manawanui is set to return to racing in the 2014 Bill Ritchie Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday after he won a barrier trial at Rosehill Gardens this morning.
Manawanui contested the opening barrier trial of the morning over 1030 metres and he led from start to finish to record a narrow victory from talented sprinter Happy Galaxy and Cox Plate contender Dan Excel.
Trainer Ron Leemon told Racing Ahead this morning that he was happy with the effort of Manawanui in the barrier trial and confirmed that he would likely take his place in the field for the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) this weekend.
“If he pulls up very well for me in the next day or so than he will be racing on Saturday in the Bill Ritchie at Randwick,” Leemon said.
“He actually ended up leading, I didn’t want him to lead, but he just jumped and put himself there and there wasn’t a lot of pace on.
“Tye just sat on him, kept him held together and basically led the trial right through to the end.”
Manawanui was one of the star three-year-old performers during the 2011 Spring Racing Carnival, with the gelding winning the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m), Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes and Group 1 Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m), but he has been unable to record a race win since and has been plagued by injuries.
Leemon said that he has to be very careful with the way that he handles Manawanui because of his injury history, but confirmed that he was relatively happy with the physical condition of the Oratorio gelding ahead of the start of his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign.
“His work has been good, it has been steady work and a slow process because I took a lot of kilos off him,” Leemon said.
“He came back a bit heavy and because of all the problems that he has had you just can’t gallop him.
“It is a restricted type of program in the way that he has been prepared.
“He gets a little bit of muscle soreness every now and again and that’s the only real problems that I have had with him.”
Leemon revealed in July that the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) was the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival goal for Manawanui, but he revealed that he will not have the six-year-old ready for what is set to be a strong race after he missed a key barrier trial last week.
“I am taking it race by race at this stage,” Leemon said.
“I was hoping to get to the Rupert Clarke, but unfortunately we missed the trials up here last week due to the weather and that is off the radar now.
“I will just reassess that all after we run this Saturday in the Bill Ritchie.
“At this stage if everything goes fine I want to go to Melbourne.”