A summer staying feature Nigel Blackiston won with Outback Joe two years ago is in the trainer’s sights again with lightly raced Manapine.
Four-year-old Manapine is set to make his first appearance of the season in Saturday’s IGA Liquor McKellar Mile at Ballarat, with the plan to progress to the Listed $150,000 Bagot Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on New Year’s Day.
Blackiston won the Bagot two seasons ago with Outback Joe and he went on to also win the Adelaide Cup before injury forced his retirement.
The Adelaide Cup is also an option for Manapine.
The son of Manhattan Rain won the Galilee Series Final over 2500m at Flemington in April before his fifth in the South Australian Derby at his most recent start in May.
Manapine was set to begin his campaign in a race on Oaks day at Flemington but was scratched when it rained and the track was downgraded.
Blackiston has waited for Saturday’s 1600m benchmark race in which Manapine will jump from a wide gate but the trainer is delighted with the way the gelding is going.
“He had a real good spell after the autumn and he’s come back bigger and stronger,” Blackiston said.
“He’s had two nice trials and this is a nice race to start him off.
“He’s come back in great order and he’ll run a nice race, but he’s got an awkward gate and from that barrier we’ll get him back and get him balanced and hopefully he’ll be finishing strongly.”
Manapine is at $10 to make a winning return.
Visiting UK-based apprentice Kieran Shoemark has the ride.
“He’s shown good promise when he won the Galilee Final and I thought his run in the Derby was very good, he just got cluttered up on the fence which doesn’t suit him,” Blackiston said.
“If he can keep on improving he should have a good future as a nice staying horse.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au