Run over the distance of 1200m at Victoria’s Moonee Valley Racecourse, the Manikato Stakes is one of the premier race events for sprinters in Australia. The race is named after the great gelding Manikato, who won this race twice (1979 & 1982) and recorded five consecutive wins in the William Reid Stakes (1979-1983).
In 2013, the Robert Heathcote trained gelding Buffering broke through for his first Group 1 win, a feat he continued at his next two outings. The Manikato is run the night before Moonee Valley’s show case event, the Group 1 Cox Plate. From 1968 to 1983, the race was known as the Freeway Stakes. Some of Australia’s classiest sprinters have won the Manikato including; Chautauqua (2015), Sepoy (2011), Hay List (2010), Miss Andretti (2006), Never Undercharge (1993) and Manikato (1979/82).
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Despite being a tricky starting point for horses drawn wide at the Moonee Valley 1200m, horses drawn wide do have a handy record in the Manikato Stakes. Hey Doc was a winner from barrier 8 in a field of 9 in 2017, in 2014 Lankan Rupee won from gate 9 in a field of 12 and Buffering won from gate 10 in a field of 12 in 2013. From 2009-2011, all three winners came from gate 1.
Kerrin McEvoy is a two-time winner of the race and was last successful with Sepoy in 2011 for trainer Peter Snowden. McEvoy will ride the International visitor Fleet Review in 2018. McEvoy has missed a top 3 finish just once in six attempts in the race. Other jockeys competing in 2018 that have a previous Manikato victory are Ben Melham (2016), Glyn Schofield (2010) and Damien Oliver (1991 & '98).
Tony McEvoy is the only trainer with a runner in the 2018 Manikato Stakes that has previously trained a winner of the race. McEvoy prepared the 2017 winner Hey Doc and saddles the race favourite this year with Sunlight. The last trainer to train the winner in consecutive years was Allan Denham in 2002 and 2003 with Spinning Hill. Ireland's Aidan O'Brien will have a record 4 runners in the 2018 Manikato Stakes.