|Class||Weight for Age|
Brave Smash ($8.50)
One of Australia's most exhilarating race for sprinters, the Manikato Stakes is held at Moonee Valley Racecourse on Cox Plate eve. Along with the William Reid Stakes in the autumn, and the Moir Stakes held in the early stages of the spring carnival, the Manikato is one of three Group One races held under lights in Australia.
Run under weight-for-age conditions, and with a prize purse of $1 million dollars up for grabs, the Manikato always attracts the highest calibre of sprinters. It is no surprise then that some of this country's best sprinters feature 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 a flash, the Manikato Stakes 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 Brave Smash become the first Japanese horse to win a Group 1 weight-for-age sprint race in Australia. After settling on-pace, the Darren Weir trained runner came off the turn to edge out Spirit of Valor.