The Manikato Stakes is shaping as one of the standout Group 1 races of the 2018 Spring Carnival and fourteen sprinters have been confirmed for a start at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Godolphin entire Kementari has returned to the track in typically competitive form this time and has opened the $4.40 favourite in 2018 Manikato Stakes betting.
The talented son of Lonhro has been a strong and consistent performer throughout his entire racing career so far, but he returned to the track a far more furnished prospect in autumn this year and won each of his first three starts with ease, including the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m).
Returned to the paddock after he failed to fire in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile, Kementari bolted home to finish second in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1400m) first-up this time before finishing fourth behind Winx in her namesake Group 1.
Second in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and fourth in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) have been returned by the four-year-old most-recently and he has trialled in the lead-up to this race, with six weeks between runs.
Three-year-old Sunlight will have only her second-ever run in open company on Friday night but remains the sole occupant of the second line of 2018 Manikato Stakes betting at $4.70.
The Magic Millions champion ended her two-year-old season a close-up third in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) and resumed this time for second behind Nature Strip in the Listed Lighting Stakes (1050m) at Morphettville in late July.
She returned to winning form in the Group 3 Quezette Stakes (1100m) in August and was last seen easily overcoming a field of three-year-old fillies in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m) a fortnight ago.
This is obviously a big step up in class, but she’ll carry only 51kgs and in-form hoop Tim Clark can take the filly straight to the lead from barrier 3.
Houtzen ($7) will have conditions to suit and is worth consideration for an each-way bet at her current Manikato Stakes odds, while Brave Smash ($9), Malaguerra ($9.50) and U S Navy Flag ($9.50) are the only other horses currently available at single-figure quotes.
Leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien will saddle four horses in the Manikato Stakes with Spirit Of Valor ($15), Fleet Review ($34) and Intelligence Cross ($61) set to join U S Navy Flag.
Spright ran a huge race to finish third in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) here at Moonee Valley first-up and with natural improvement, along with the slight increase in trip, she looks to be massive overs at $34.
In-form sprinter Voodoo Lad ($15), wet-tracker Jungle Edge ($31), classy mare Tulip ($31) and Invincible Star ($17) complete the field in 2018 Manikato Stakes betting.