Express ready for first-up tilt at Manikato

Newmarket Handicap winner Shamexpress will be out to stake his claim as the best sprinter in the land when he contests the Group 1 Manikato Stakes(1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

The Group 1 winner will be first-up and has impressed connections since returning from the United Kingdom just over three weeks ago.

"He's thrived during the northern hemisphere summer and we couldn't be happier with how he has travelled back and the shape he is in leading into his return to the track," trainer Danny O'Brien said.

The O’Reilly entire raced twice in the United Kingdom, finishing ninth in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (1005m) and seventh in the Group 1 July Cup (1207m), but will be better suited to the conditions in Australia and was victorious in his only previous start at Moonee Valley.

He has drawn Barrier 2 for Friday's feature, which will be his first start in Australia since his barnstorming Newmarket win.

Classy mare Samaready will have the opportunity to confirm her status as Australia’s top sprinter when she contests the Manikato Stakes.

Samaready (barrier seven) stamped herself as the potential successor to Black Caviar, as the nation’s champion sprinter, with a dominant victory in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley a month ago but will need to be at her best to record her second straight win against eleven other leading sprinters this weekend.

The Moir Stakes will be the key form race for the Manikato Stakes, with Buffering, Bel Sprinter, Moment Of Change and Le Bonsir backing up from the event, but there are a number of other horses in the final field coming from a different form line, such as Shamexpress.

Champion Hong Kong sprinter Lucky Nine (barrier four) will make his long-awaited Australian debut in the Manikato Stakes and has done everything right since arriving at the International Equine Centre in Werribee almost a month ago.

Trainer Caspar Fownes said that the Dubawi gelding will not go into Friday night’s race at 100 percent fitness but remains confident that his star galloper is good enough to record his sixth win at Group 1 level.

“He is about 85 percent going into this race and I have left improvement in front of him for the Flemington race, but I still believe he will run a very nice race first-up,” Fownes said.

Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane recorded his first win at Group 1 level in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) last month and he will get his first crack against the leading weight-for-age sprinters at Moonee Valley on Friday.

Rebel Dane (barrier nine) worked at the Cox Plate Breakfast With The Best at Moonee Valley this morning and was most impressive; running his final 400 metres faster than other horse that worked.

Chris Waller-trained Arinosa will be stepping up to Group 1 level for the first time in her racing career after she started her 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with an impressive victory in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on October 5.

The Dash For Cash mare has drawn the outside barrier and will be having just her second start at Moonee Valley after finishing seventh in the 2011 Programmed Property Services Handicap (1200m).

Rounding out the 2013 Manikato Stakes final field is Queensland sprinter Temple Of Boom (barrier 11) and Anthony Cummins-trained Diamond Earth who won the Group 3 The Nivison (1200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Story by Thomas Hackett, to view full story click here

Photo by Bruno Cannatelli, to view Bruno's website click here