|Class||Weight for Age|
Hey Doc ($23)
Arguably Australia's most exciting race for sprinters, the Manikato is held at Moonee Valley Racecourse on the Friday night before the Cox Plate. Along with the William Reid Stakes in the autumn, and the Moir Stakes held on the eve of the AFL grand final, the Manikato is one of three Group One races held under lights in Australia.
With a prize pool of one million dollars up for grabs, the Manikato is a more lucrative race to win than its lead-up, the Moir. The Manikato is run under Weight-for-Age conditions, and always attracts the best sprinters in the land, with some great sprinters of Australian racing on the honour roll. Chautauqua, Hay List, Miss Andretti and Sunline have all triumphed over the 1,200 metres since the turn of the century, demonstrating the type of quality needed to win.
While the Manikato has seen plenty of short-priced favourites salute in recent years, both the 2016 and 2017 editions were won by long shots. Rebel Dane and Hey Doc both got the chocolates at healthy odds, proving that any horse in the race can win. This is especially true at the tight-turning Moonee Valley track, where barriers play a bigger role than at any other track in Australia.
The race is named after the great Manikato, who famously won five William Reid Stakes in a row at Moonee Valley.
Under the lights and over in the blink of an eye, the Manikato is always one of the most exciting races to watch, even for neutrals who didn't have a punt in the race. More often than not there will be nothing in the finish, with the smallest of margins separating the placegetters.
Last year's edition saw another tight finish. Front-runner Hey Doc just held on for victory over its fast finishing rivals. To relive the excitement, watch below.