The Manikato Stakes is Horse Racing's Own Grand Final

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Apache Cat vs. Mic Mac - A horse racing showdown in the Manikato Stakes to rival the AFL Grand Final

The Victorian Spring Horse Racing Carnival moves under lights at Moonee Valley on Friday night with the running of the Group 1 Manikato Stakes. With the AFL Grand Final on Saturday, Spring Racing leads into one of Victoria's most famous sporting weekends by hosting the Manikato Stakes as a prelude to the football action.

The Manikato Stakes is one of Australia's most prestigious sprint races, and named after dual winner and Hall Of Fame Racehorse, Manikato. In an historic event, the winner of this year's Manikato Stakes will receive automatic entry to the US' greatest day of horse racing. The Breeder's Cup World Championship meeting will be held this year at the famed Santa Anita Park in California and offers over US$25 million in prize money. The last Australian horse to compete on Breeder's Cup Day was Starcraft who started at Belmont in 2005 at the end of his successful European campaign.

This year's Manikato Stakes promises to uphold a long tradition of champions that have won the race including Sunline, Miss Andretti and Dane Ripper. Superstar Apache Cat lines up against the emerging champion Mic Mac in what promises to be a horse racing showdown to rival the AFL Grand Final. Both horses are trained by Greg Eurell and are to be ridden by jockeys Damien Oliver and Danny Nikolic respectively. Both Oliver and Nikolic know what it is like to win a Manikato having been successful on Dane Ripper in 1998 and Spinning Hill in 2002.

Apache Cat returns from a victorious winter in Queensland which culminated in winning his second straight Doomben 10,000. He has won over $4 million in prize money and is chasing his 18th black type victory on Friday night. Apache Cat has twice won the Group 1 Australia Stakes at the same course and distance. Mic Mac has won nine of his eleven career starts and is coming back in distance after a fine second to Whobegotyou over the 1600m of the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes on September 12.

Unlike the football, there are more than two contenders with a field of thirteen runners greeting the starter. Legendary trainer, Bart Cummings teams with emerging jockey Michael Rodd and Russeting who has drawn ideally in barrier two. Cummings last trained the Manikato winner in 1998 when he then combined with another up and coming jockey in Damien Oliver to claim victory. Anthony Cummings will attempt to follow in his father's footsteps by saddling three runners in Duporth, Turffontein and Solo Flyer. Duporth is also returning from winter in Queensland and a Group 1 victory in the 1200m BTC Cup. Turffontein is backing up from an impressive victory last week in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes over 1400m only last weekend.

Almost every horse in the race has their chance with Chris Waller's Danleigh, David Hayes' Nicconi and reigning Golden Slipper winner, Phelan Ready trained by Jason McLachlan all having strong claims. Lucky Secret, trained by Tony Vasil and to be ridden by Brett Prebble, has drawn wide but has an exceptional Moonee Valley record having won seven times from eight starts at the track. His only defeat there came in the Group 3 Ian McEwen Trophy over 1000m first up last Spring.


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Dafydd Lewis
BetFair Australia
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