The Listed Chester Manifold Stakes is the main event at Flemington this weekend and we have a field of nine set to line up over the 1400m.
Despite the small field this looks to be a very competitive race with six of the nine runners under double figure odds and just $1.30 separating the top 3 in the market.
There's a tiny bit of rain forecast for Melbourne on Friday but not enough to affect the track, and with 35 degrees predicted on Saturday we will definitely be racing on a Good track.
The pace in the race looks fairly standard, though it could heat up if the leading pair decide to take each other on. The two I speak about are Decircles and Tudor, who both love to lead. Either Decircles will cross over and lead from barrier 6, or Tudor will kick up inside him from barrier 2 and force Decircles to sit outside him.
Kareeming should use barrier 1 to box seat and Tried And Tired should come over from barrier 8 to take up a position handy to the speed. Behind that we should see General Groove on the rail, likely to be joined by Zupacharged, with Dances On Stars, Noela's Choice and Sarajevo settling at the back of the field.
DANCES ON STARS: Good run last start in Sydney to finish runner up in a fairly strong race. Only carried 55.5kg that day so the rise to 59kg is an obvious concern, as is the step up to 1400m. Not a winning chance for me.
TRIED AND TIRED: Finished 4th beaten a length behind Durendal last start where Zupacharged finished 2nd. Finds himself 1.5kg worse off at the weights to Zupacharged today which will make it tough to turn the tables, but the step up to 1400m and this being his 3rd run back from a spell are big positives. He'll run well.
DECIRCLES: Beaten comfortably last start but he does tend to improve at his 3rd run back from a spell and he holds a good record over this track and distance. Can't see him winning but he could hang on for a place at big odds.
KAREEMING: Stayer resuming after a couple months off the track and he'll find this field too quick for him over 1400m.
GENERAL GROOVE: He's run a couple of nice races since resuming from a spell and comes into this at peak fitness at his third run back. Maps to get a sweet run from barrier 3 and he's finished in the top 2 at both his starts over this track and distance. Not my top pick but should go well.
NOELA'S CHOICE: Ran a huge race last start when she was first up from a spell. Finished within half a length of Zupacharged and she is sure to strip fitter 2nd up here. Gets a good draw, though she races back in the field. Decent chance.
SARAJEVO: Wasn't fully tested last start when finishing 8th behind Durendal so you can put a line through that. Never placed over 1400m is a concern and he will go back from barrier 9 and give them all a head start. Place chance.
ZUPACHARGED: Ran a bottler as our top selection in the Standish Handicap last start at 20/1 to finish 2nd behind Durendal. Stays at the same weight of 54kg and the step up to 1400m should suit him. He was going through the line better than most last start so that makes him a huge chance in this. Top pick.
TUDOR: He'll jump and lead with 54kg and Darren Gauci aboard. The 1400m is a query and he's never placed at this track either. He might give a sight out the front but I can't see him winning.
Small, competitive field but I am happy to stick with ZUPACHARGED who almost pulled off the win at 20/1 last start when we had him as our top pick. Was beaten by Durendal on that occasion who is a smart horse, but he was going through the line better than anything else which suggests the 1400m should suit him. Remains at 54kg and rates as a great winning chance.
Despite the rise in weight I think TRIED AND TIRED should run a good race. The step up to 1400m probably suits him better than most here and his record when 3rd up from a spell is very good.
SARAJEVO didn't have much luck last start in the same race as Zupacharged. He will go back from barrier 9 and be saved for one last run. We know he has the talent to win but I'm still not convinced. Should run well but happy to take him on.
NOELA'S CHOICE, DANCES ON STARS and GENERAL GROOVE are all place chances, while DECIRCLES could give a sight out the front stepping up to his most favoured distance.
2nd TRIED AND TIRED
4th NOELA'S CHOICE
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