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The Manikato Stakes is a Group 1 weight-for-age race that takes place at Moonee Valley racecourse on Cox Plate eve in October during the Melbourne spring racing carnival. The race is run over a distance of 1200 metres and worth $1,000,000 in prizemoney. The 2016 Manikato Stakes was won by Rebel Dane from Fell Swoop with Japonisme third.
Taking place on the night before the Moonee Valley Racing Club's premier race day of the year, Gr1 WS Cox Plate day, the Manikato Stakes meeting provides the perfect entree top the main event the following day.
From 1968 to 1983 the race was known as the ‘Freeway Stakes’ and in 1984 the race was changed to honour the mighty Manikato who made Moonee Valley the scene of some his greatest triumphs.
Manikato was one of Australia's most loved racehorses back in the eighties and he won the Freeway Stakes twice and also scored five wins in a row in the William Reid stakes at this same track and distance. Manikato was an out and out champion who had 49 career starts for 29 wins and 13 places and he sadly passed away in 1984 after an illness and now lays at rest at the home of many of his greatest wins, Moonee Valley racecourse.
The Manikato Stakes is run at level weights and is a race that is more often than not won by a top class horse who will go on to win more quality races during their career. The level weighted conditions of the race gives the better sprinters a decided advantage and gallopers contesting this event will most likely have tackled similar type sprint races along the way.
Now that this event is held on Cox Plate eve, races such as the Gr3 McEwen Stakes or Gr1 AJ Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley, or the Gr2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield, will provide good lead up races to the Manikato Stakes.
The list of recent winners include some of Australia's finest horse flesh with Sepoy (2011), Hay List (2010), Miss Andretti (2006), Redoute's Choice (1999) and Sunline (2000) all winning this event, while back in the eighties top sprinters such as Rancho Ruler (1988), Rubiton (1987) and Strawberry Road (1983) were all successful.
Rebel Dane (2016) ran seventh in the Gr2 Premiere Stakes over 1200m at Randwick in Sydney before travelling to Melbourne to win this event in exciting fashion and recent Manikato Stakes winners include Chautauqua (2015) and Lankan Rupee (2014).
Spring Carnival Guide
The Manikato Stakes is a good horse's race and apart from producing horses who go on to win or be very competitive in most of the major sprint races of the spring, it has also produced five WS Cox Plate winners of late. Sunline (2000-01), Dane Ripper (1997), Rubiton (1987) and Strawberry Road (1983) all won this race in recent times.
When the race was held earlier in the spring Hay List (2010) won the Gr 2 Gilgai Stakes at Flemington after winning this event and True Persuasion (2nd in 2010) ran third behind Black Caviar in the AJ Moir Stakes. Eagle Falls (3rd in 2010) took out the Gr1 Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield the following autumn.
Buffering (2013) headed to Flemington at his next start to win the Gr1 VRC Sprint Classic down the 1200m straight course to make it back to back Group 1 victories.
Mental (2nd in 2012), Sea Siren (2012) and Hallowell Belle (4th in 2012) filled the first three placings in the VRC Sprint Classic at Flemington on the final day of the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Cast a keen eye over the Manikato Stakes as there might be horses in the field who go on to feature in major sprint races later in the spring.
2016 Manikato Stakes result 1. $61.00 Rebel Dane 58.5 Ben Melham
2. $7.50 Fell Swoop 58.5 Hugh Bowman
3. $16.00 Japonisme 58.5 Glyn Schofield
4. $16.00 The Quarterback 58.5 Matthew Allen
5. $19.00 Under The Louvre 58.5 Chris Parnham
6. $9.00 Buffering 58.5 Damian Browne
=7. $12.00 English 56.5 Mark Zahra
=7. $2.45 Chautauqua 58.5 Dwayne Dunn
9. $16.00 Lucky Hussler 58.5 Brad Rawiller
10. $9.50 Holler 58.5 James McDonald
Margins: 0.2 len, 1 len Time: 1:10.99
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