Unable to contest events through the 2014 Autumn Carnival after injuring his hamstring during the running of the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield in October 2013, trainer Ron Leemon has revealed Group 1 champion Manawanui is back in work ahead of a 2014 Spring Racing Carnival initially geared towards the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) on September 28th.
A standout performer in his first racing year through 2011, the Oratorio gelding won two of three starts over autumn before returning to spring to win all of the Golden Rose, Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes (1300m), Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) and Group 2 Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m) and finish second in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) most notably.
While unable to figure in contention over three prior starts in the 2013 spring, Leemon told TVN he was sure the Moonga would have figured as the turning point for Manawanui last time in, and is expecting the rising six-year-old to return to peak condition this campaign.
“He was making a run into the race, working into second spot, before he pulled his hamstring, which then caused his heart arrhythmia. We would have probably run top-three in that race,” Leemon said.
“We gave him a trial on April 28 and he finished second alongside Cradle Me over 800 metres at Warwick Farm. He wasn’t extended in the trial and we gave him the hitout so he could pass his ECG test to stewards’ satisfaction.
“He got very big during his break. I’ve got 20kg off him but he’s a much bigger racehorse now. Even though he’s put on a lot of weight, he looks to have got stronger.”
Yet to confirm a path for Manawanui through spring, Leemon said he is likely to find the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes third-up, before progressing to other Group 1 features should he be successful.
“If he went really well in the Rupert Clarke you could then look at the Emirates Stakes or even the Mackinnon Stakes if he was looking for a bit further. I believe he’s at his best over 1600 to 2000 metres,” Leemon said.
Securing a total of six wins and four minor places from just 18 competitive starts so far, Manawanui is yet to appear in early betting markets for major events through the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
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