With a winning streak of a three in a row compiled from only four races Manawanui comes into the spring carnival with a mountain of momentum.
His first run in Sydney of the new season came a couple of weeks back when he attempted to secure his claims as a prospect in the aptly names Up and Coming Stakes.
He did just that with a blinding last 200m surge to cruise to victory against a handy field which included the consistent Queenian.
It’s a step up in grade this weekend though when Manawanui lines up as just one of six entries in the 2011 Golden Rose.
While the quality of the race is unquestionable the small numbers do throw up an instant query for trainer Ron Leemon.
“Who’s going to lead and who’s going to follow?,” he said.
“I don’t know where I’m going to be at this stage to be honest, I don’t know if I’m going to go back there or up with the leader.”
Manawanui is best known for getting back with a bit of cover before being released up the straight but a race of this nature may force a slight change in strategy.
He has settled closer for some success in the past, he won at Canterbury in his final race of last prep after taking a spot just behind the leader.
Whatever transpires on race day though Leemon knows the horse will be presented in the shape to win.
“I’m pleased where I’ve got him, he had a really good blow this morning which I thought he would,” he said.
“He’s got that wonderful turn of foot you like to see in the horse, it gives him that x factor.”
There’s a little bit extra pressure on Manawanui than a few others in this race as well given that connections were forced to pay a $50,000 late entrance fee to get him into the field.
“They thought it’s once in a lifetime for everybody, some of them it’s the first time in a horse,” Leemon said.
“How many times do you get a chance in these Group 1 races.”
He said while they may try and work out some possible tactics ahead of the race the vast majority of it will come down to the riders and the way the horses leave the gates.
“I think on Saturday we’ll discuss various tactics but the jockeys themselves are going to have to sort it out when they jump,” he said.
After the Golden Rose Manawanui is likely to be targeted towards the Stan Fox Stakes and the Caulfield Guineas.
The Golden Rose barrier draw has just been completed and the horses will jump from the following gates; Foxwedge (1) Flight Of Pegasus (2) Manawanui (3) Helmet (4) Smart Missile (5) Aeronautical (6).