Leemon gets his Guineas wish with Manawanu
Warwick Farm trainer Ron Leemon was granted his wish when Manawanui drew barrier three for Saturday’s $1 million Caulfield Guineas.
Leemon said on Tuesday he had wanted the Group One Golden Rose winner to be jumping out of gate three or four.
“From barrier three we can see how it’s going to pan out, where the speed is going to come from if there is going to be any speed,” Leemon said.
“If the speed is on we’ll take a sit. If they want to dawdle I’d say we’ll go forward.”
Leemon said the connections of Manawanui, who include his wife Gaye, son Damian and brother-in-law Alf Cook, had knocked back an offer of $1 million for Manawanui.
He said the Oratorio gelding wasn’t for sale at this stage.
Manawanui is shooting for his sixth straight win at his first test at 1600m and his first try in the left-handed or Melbourne direction.
Leemon rates Helmet, who has won five of his eight starts and has never finished out of a place, as the hardest to beat.
The Guineas has attracted a small field of eight and the winner is expected to come from Manawanui, Helmet, Smart Missile and last Friday night’s Group Two Bill Stutt Stakes winner Chase The Rainbow.
Manawanui had a victory over Smart Missile and Helmet in the Golden Rose (1400m) and then romped in as the long odds-on favourite in the Group Two Stan Fox Stakes (1500m), leading all the way at Rosehill.
Leemon said the gelding had been in Melbourne for over a week and galloped at Caulfield on Tuesday morning, and he had no qualms about him handling the circuit.
“He’ll handle the track. He’s an extremely adaptable horse, he can adapt to any situation. He’s just one of those rare horses who’ll do it,” Leemon said.
Kerrin McEvoy, whose mount Helmet drew the outside gate, is likely to adopt similar tactics to when the Exceed And Excel colt impressively won the Guineas Prelude (1400m) from Guineas rivals Secret Hills and Specter in a slick 1:21.4.
On that occasion he sat off race leader Golden Archer before romping home by 3-1/4 lengths.
“I’d like him to be in the first two or three definitely,” McEvoy said.
The colt, a dual Group One winner of the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and the Champagne Stakes (1600m) as a two-year-old in Sydney, has been known to be quite wayward at times but did everything right in the Guineas Prelude.
“Drawing eight he’ll be going into the barriers late and he won’t be in there for too long and we’d like to see him jump away quickly and cleanly, that’s the main thing,” McEvoy said.
“Fingers crossed he’s in a good frame of mind. This morning (Tuesday) I rode him work and the horse seems to be enjoying life down here in Melbourne.”
Helmet is $2.50 favourite with TAB Sportsbet ahead of Smart Missile, who is the only horse to beat Sepoy, at $3.20, Manawanui at $5.50, Chase The Rainbow at $6.50 with Huegill next best at $17.