The Manikato Stakes is a 1200 metre weight-for-age Group One sprint worth $1 million at Moonee Valley.
* Formerly known as the Freeway Stakes, the race was renamed in 1984 in honour of the famed sprinter Manikato who won the race twice and is buried at Moonee Valley.
* First held in 1968 and won by Winfreux.
* Notable winners: Vain (1969), Century (1972) Manikato (1979 and 1982), Strawberry Road (1983) Rubiton (1987), Dane Ripper (1997), Sunline (2000).
* The race was moved in 2012 from September to the night before the Cox Plate. Before it’s new date four horses – Strawberry Road, Rubiton, Dane Ripper and Sunline completed the Manikato Stakes/Cox Plate double.
* Trainers Bob Hoysted and Bart Cummings won the race four times each – Hoysted with Scamanda (1976), Manikato (1979 and 1982) and Touch Of Genius (1985), Cummings with Century (1972), Lord Dudley (1975), Never Undercharge (1993) and Dane Ripper (1998).
* Fell Swoop is the only horse in the field yet to win a Group One race with his best finish second to Chautauqua in the TJ Smith Stakes in April.
* Moonee Valley is a StrathAyr track, a turf surface with a sand base, and is a tight turning track. It has a circumference of 1805 metres and the home straight is 173 metres.
* Chautauqua won the race in 2015 and is the favourite to defend his title from barrier one. The Hawkes Racing-trained gelding has won three of his past five runs – Chairman’s Sprint Prize in Hong Kong, TJ Smith Stakes and Black Caviar Lightning Stakes.
WHAT SOME OF THE MAIN PLAYERS ARE SAYING:
“I’m just going to have to play the cards that are dealt to me now. He doesn’t have to go back to last but if the tempo is fast enough it probably suits me to round them up” – Chautauqua’s jockey Dwayne Dunn.
“She’s ready to pounce,” – English’s co-trainer Gai Waterhouse.
“I thought long and hard about it and I just thought it sets up well the way the three-year-olds have been racing against the older horses, that weight relief is very good. I know he’s meeting some good horses, but he’s a good sprinter” – Capitalist’s co-trainer Peter Snowden.