The Group 1 Manikato Stakes is one of the most exciting races on the Australian racing calendar and it runs this Friday night at Moonee Valley.
Top-level sprinters from Australia and abroad compete for the big prize on the eve of the Cox Plate and we have free tips, form and odds for the race.
Can the locals hold off the four-horse charge from Aidan O’Brien? Or will the feature be heading to Ireland?
2018 Manikato Stakes final field, barrier draw and odds
Our Best Bets for the 2018 Manikato Stakes
Sunlight @ $4.60 – BET NOW
Best Each Way Bet:
Houtzen @ $7.50 – BET NOW
Brave Smash @ $9.50 – BET NOW
2018 Manikato Stakes form guide and tips
Brave Smash (Best Roughie – $9.50) – BET NOW
The former Japanese sprinter hasn’t had much go his way this campaign, which included a second placing on this track in the Moir Stakes and that form should stack up nicely here.
Darren Weir lines up the five-year-old, which has a win and a placing at Moonee Valley and having experience around this tight-turning circuit is a big bonus.
He just needs some luck in running from barrier nine to be figuring in the finish.
Kementari ($5.50) – BET NOW
There’s no doubting the class of Kementari but we’re struggling to see him getting a good run from barrier 12.
The James Cummings-trained four-year-old finished fourth behind Grunt in the Makybe Diva last start and dropping back to the sprinting distance could also pose a problem.
There are too many negatives against him here and the $5.50 is massive unders.
Malaguerra ($12) – BET NOW
Hasn’t been seen more almost a year and he hasn’t had any trials coming into this race. That’s a strange training decision and it’s tough to suggest him as a winning chance.
His fresh record is fantastic with six starts for four wins, but scoring a Manikato Stakes win after a year off would be an impressive training performance.
Voodoo Lad ($15) – BET NOW
Only fourth behind Ball of Muscle last start and we’re not sure he’s going well enough to handle the rise in class for this.
The 12-time winner has won two of his three starts at Moonee Valley, which is a positive and he could sit just off the hot speed and come with one big run.
$15 is a good price and a top-four finish wouldn’t surprise many punters.
Jungle Edge ($27) – BET NOW
Noted wet tracker which ran second behind Pierata last time out but was left in his dust down the Randwick straight.
Yet to win on a good track and it’s hard to see that statistic changing here. Likely to struggle.
Spirit of Valor ($11) – BET NOW
To put it simply, we don’t rate the European sprinters with the same intent as the stayers. That being said, he ran well for second behind Ball of Muscle last time out at Caulfield.
Drawing barrier 14 might make it tough for the son of War Front and he looks a better chance down the Flemington straight later in the carnival.
U S Navy Flag ($7) – BET NOW
Another O’Brien-trained runner which has been well-backed throughout the week, but his run in The Everest was disappointing.
That could be put down to the track conditions, however, and most punters are expecting a better run on an improved track here. He also gets an inside draw and Ryan Moore loves winning big races this time of the year.
Not the worst at $7.
Fleet Review ($35) – BET NOW
Five lengths behind the winner at Caulfield last start and it’s tough to see him turning that form around at Group 1 level.
2.5 lengths behind U S Navy Flag three back as a $51 chance and he looks held against this line up.
Houtzen (Best Each Way – $7.50) – BET NOW
It’s tough to fault the form of Houtzen, which has exceeded expectations in two runs this campaign.
The Toby Edmonds-trained Group 1 winner finished a narrow second behind Nature Strip on this track two back before running an unlucky fifth behind Viddora last start.
Having three consecutive runs at The Valley is a bonus and she’s an adaptable type that can sit on the speed and kick strongly in the straight.
Tulip ($35) – BET NOW
Has run some nice races this campaign but it’s tough to see her competing well enough to win at this level.
Tricky draw and she doesn’t possess the turn-of-foot needed to take this out.
Spright ($31) – BET NOW
Caused an upset to win at Doomben last preparation and returned with a third placing in the Moir Stakes, which was a good effort.
Hard to back her with any confidence and we’ll wait for something easier.
Invincible Star ($18) – BET NOW
Hasn’t lived up to expectations this campaign and after she was touted as a leading Everest chance, she was dropped from the line-up.
She’s only a two-time winner which should struggle here.
Sunlight (Best Bet – $4.60) – BET NOW
The seven-time winner loves the lead and that’s a big asset around this track. She led them all the way at Caulfield last start and that’s going to be made easier by carrying only 51kg.
With over $2 million in earnings, Sunlight has class on her side and she could prove herself as a genuine Group 1 sprinter by winning this.
$4.60 is a fair price and one worth taking.