Chris Waller has three of the leading chances in the 2014 Manion Cup, but believes that the wet Rosehill Gardens track makes imported stayer Opinion the horse to beat in the Group 3 event tomorrow.
Opinion made a slow start to his Australian racing career during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, but found his best form on a wet track in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 1; racing away in the final stages of the race to score an upset win over Carlton House and stablemate Junoob.
Waller believes that Junoob is the class horse in the Manion Cup this weekend, after he beat Opinion by five lengths in the Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m) on March 15, but gives Opinion the edge over his stablemate on a rain affected track.
“Opinion is thriving and will certainly appreciate a slow track or worse and will certainly appreciate the distance,” Waller said.
“He is the horse to beat.”
Junoob has stamped himself as a horse to watch with a string of impressive performances this preparation and was well-backed in 2014 Sydney Cup betting markets after recording a dominant win in the Randwick City Stakes.
Waller admits that there is a question mark over the Haafhd gelding’s ability to run a strong 2400 metres and said that his performance in the Manion Cup will determine whether he contests the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on April 19.
“Junoob is the class horse and he is a super 2000 metre horse on a good track,” Waller said.
“He has an amazing turn-of-foot and he looks the next big thing.
“Stepping him up to 2400 is a bit of a concern and on a slow track he is nowhere near his best.
“We are trying to work out whether we should be on a Sydney Cup path or not.”
Waller 2014 Manion Cup charges are rounded out by Permit, who will be returning to the races for the first time since he was found lame following the running of the Parramatta Cup.
Permit won the 2012 edition of the Manion Cup and according to Waller is close to peak condition, but has a poor record on wet surfaces.
“He is a tricky horse to get 100 percent right, but he is as close to that as we can get him,” Waller said.
“He had a trial in between runs and did a bit of work on his back doing some dressage work.
“He is really well, but he is not a notable wet tracker and that is my only knock on him.”
Junoob ($2.40) is currently on top of 2014 Manion Cup betting markets from Opinion ($2.90) with Permit available at the lengthy odds of $41