The Manikato Stakes is a 1200 metre weight-for-age race held by the Moonee Valley Racing Club. It is run at Moonee Valley in October on the Friday night before the Cox Plate. In 2009 it was part of the Breeder’s Cup Challenge.
The Manikato Stakes was first run in 1968 as the Freeway Stakes over 6 furlongs (about 1200 metres) and was won by Winfreux. In 1979 it became a Group 2 race and in 1984 the name was changed to the Manikato Stakes. It became a Group 1 race in 1989 and is one of the most important races on the Moonee Valley racing calendar. In recent years it has been run as a night meeting, and in 2012 was moved from late September to the eve of the Cox Plate.
In 2009 the Manikato Stakes became a qualifying race for the American Breeders Cup meeting in November. This meant the winner got an automatic start in the US$1 million Breeders Cup Sprint at Santa Anita racecourse in California, giving trainers and owners a chance to match their horses against international competition.
Last filly/mare to win: Loving Gaby (2019) – filly, Sea Siren (2012) – mare
Last 3YO to win: C&G – Sepoy (2011); Filly – Loving Gaby (2019)
Champion racehorse Manikato won this race twice in 1979 and 1982. The race was named after him when he died in 1984. He was buried at Moonee Valley racecourse close to the winning post where he achieved so many victories including five consecutive William Reid Stakes. It is fitting that the race named in his honour attracts Australia’s finest sprinters.
Other notable winners of the Manikato Stakes include Chautauqua (2015), Lankan Rupee (2014), Buffering (2013), Danleigh (2009), Miss Andretti (2006), Sunline (2000), Redoubte’s Choice (1999), Dane Ripper (1998), Rancho Ruler (1988), Rubiton (1987), Strawberry Road (1983), Manikato (1979 and 1982), Century (1972), Dual Choice (1970 and 1971) and Vain (1969).
A full field of fourteen quality sprinters will line up for the $1,000,000 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes. Four of them had their last start in the G2 Schillaci Stakes, two in the G1 Moir Stakes and two in The Everest. The early favourite is Sunlight who is the only three-year-old in the field and has 7 wins and 3 places from her 10 starts. She has won two Group 3 races at her last 2 starts and has a huge drop in weight. Second favourite is Kementari who followed 2nd in the Memsie Stakes with 4th in the Makybe Diva stakes and can improve on that. Third favourite is Houtzen who ran 5th in the Moir Stakes after being held up until the last 50m.
US Navy Flag is one of four runners for Aidan O’Brien and is better than his 9th in The Everest suggests. Brave Smash was 8th in The Everest but ran 2nd in the Moir Stakes before that and goes well at Moonee Valley. Malaguerra finished 3rd in this race last year and hasn’t started since last November but has an exceptional first-up record. Spirit Of Valor ran 2nd in the Schillaci Stakes and Voodoo Lad finished 4th. The other 6 runners are all at 16 to 1 or longer including Jungle Edge whose chances will improve dramatically if there is rain about, and Tulip who is capable of running a big race at this track.
The following are the top 4 selections from our tipster panel for this years race.