May, 2015 |Ben Asgari – @BenAsgariRacing
Saturday’s $500,000 South Australian Derby (2500m) could be more significant than just a fourth Group 1 victory for trainer Nigel Blackiston.
The Flemington-based trainer saddles up Manapine in the race and said he is hoping for a top-three finish for reasons other than just the prizemoney and glory.
“If he can win or run a place at Group 1 level then it can make a big difference going into the Spring as you are pretty much qualified for most of the big races,’ Blackiston said.
“If you’ve got a horse qualified for the big races then you’re not chasing your tail. Sometimes when you’re not qualified you have to run in races that aren’t suitable and you have to try and win races that you realistically can’t win.
“At the moment he’s quite immature and whether he can get to the Caulfield Cup or Melbourne Cup level, only time will tell, but certainly nice having a horse with the attributes of a nice young stayer.”
A dominant winner of the Galilee Series Final (2500m) at Flemington last month, Blackiston immediately decided to bypass the VRC St Leger (2800m) with Manapine to concentrate on the Derby.
Believing the son of Manhattan Rain will be an even better horse as a four-year-old, Blackiston said he was currently racing on raw ability.
“The thing about this horse is he just has the perfect attitude for a stayer,” he said.
“He’s so laid back and is very casual, hence why he has the blinkers on because if he doesn’t he goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up.”
Manapine is currently the equal $8 second-favourite with TAB, which has star Western Australian filly Delicacy rated the $2.90 favourite. Though he is confident his charge will run well, Blackiston said Delicacy appeared the obvious danger.
“He’s drawn very nicely (barrier six) and I think there are only two horses in the field that have won over 2400m and he’s one of them along with the very good mare Delicacy,” he said.
“I think she’s the benchmark after winning what was one of the strongest (Schweppes) Oaks fields in 15 years.
“She looked very impressive and she’s already won a Derby in Perth and could be anything.”
Manapine will be partnered by jockey Dwayne Dunn, who is searching for his first South Australian Derby success.