Manawanui not certain to start in Sydney

 Manawanui not certain to start in SydneyRon Leemon has tentatively pencilled in the Warwick Stakes as a spring starting point for Manawanui but may take him to Melbourne sooner rather than later.

The 2011 Golden Rose winner and Caulfield Guineas runner-up is being aimed at the Cox Plate in October and a lack of suitable lead-up races in Sydney concerns his trainer.

The Group Two Warwick Stakes (1400m) on August 25 at Manawanui’s home track, Warwick Farm, is the traditional starting point for Sydney’s spring middle distance and staying horses.

“At the moment we are looking at the Warwick Stakes and also Melbourne,” Leemon said.

“There is not much for him in Sydney in August and September but there are a lot of races in Melbourne.

“I’ll have a good look over the next couple of weeks but I’m not really worried about where he starts first.

“It’s a way off yet.”

Manawanui was sent for an earlier than scheduled spell after a tiring run in the Randwick Guineas, the third start of his autumn campaign which followed two close seconds.

During his weeks off, Manawanui put on around 50 kilograms and Leemon said the rising four-year-old was still pretty burly.

“He’s still got a grass belly,” he said.

“We won’t have an all weather training track at Warwick Farm until September so all his work has been on the sand.

“He will have two barrier trials before he races again to help with his fitness.”

The Viscoride tack at Warwick Farm has been dug up with a new surface being laid.

After his second to Helmet in the Caulfield Guineas last spring, Manawanui was given a preview of the Cox Plate when he won the AAMI Vase over the 2040 metres at Moonee Valley.

“The Cox Plate is the race we have always had in mind,” Leemon said.

Connections of the gelding knocked back lucrative offers from potential Asian buyers early in his career.

His 12 starts so far have netted six wins and four placings and his earnings stand at more than $1.3 million.