Manikato Stakes 2022 Preview: Contenders, Betting & Winner Trends

Many of the country’s finest sprinters will battle it out in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

This prestigious race takes place under the lights on the eve of Cox Plate Day, and it always attracts a talented field. There are lots of elite performers in the mix this time around, including Godolphin sprinter Paulele, Bella Nipotina and Coolangatta, who won the Group 1 Moir Stakes last month. 

Manikato Stakes Background and History

The Manikato Stakes is one of four Group 1 races held at Moonee Valley each year, along with the Moir Stakes, the Cox Plate and the William Reid Stakes. It was initially known as the Freeway Stakes. Winfreux won the inaugural running of the race back in 1968, and champion racehorse Vain saluted the following year.

The race was run over a distance of 6 furlongs before the introduction of the metric system, and it has been a 1200m sprint since 1972. In 1984, it was renamed the Manikato Stakes, honouring the great racehorse who clinched five consecutive William Reid Stakes triumphs at Moonee Valley.

This event was bumped up to Group 1 status in 1989, when Our Westminster secured victory. It was part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in 2009, with winner Danleigh earning a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint that year. Since 2012, it has taken place the night before the Cox Plate, providing an exciting prelude to Moonee Valley’s biggest event.


Manikato Stakes Notable Winners

There have been some highly illustrious winners of the Manikato Stakes over the years, including four Cox Plate winners. These are the leading lights that saluted:

  • Vain | The champion thoroughbred who dominated Australian sprint racing with 12 wins and two runner-up finishes from 14 starts between 1968 and 1970.
  • Manikato | The legendary sprinter won this race in 1979 and 1982, along with five straight William Reid Stakes, four Futurity Stakes, the Caulfield Guineas and the Golden Slipper.
  • Strawberry Road | The first horse to win the Manikato Stakes-Cox Plate double. An Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductee, who also won in Germany, France, the United States and Japan.
  • Rubiton | The second winner of this race to also clinch the Cox Plate. He also won the Underwood Stakes and the Mackinnon Stakes.
  • Dane Ripper | The Bart Cummings-trained champion mare, who won the Cox Plate in 1997 and the Manikato Stakes the following year.
  • Redoute’s Choice | A multiple Group 1 winner who went on to become the Australian Champion Stallion in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
  • Sunline | A two-time Cox Plate winner and Australian Racing Hall of Fame member, who was the world champion turf mare. She is the last horse to win both the Manikato Stakes and the Cox Plate, and she also landed the Waikato Sprint and the Hong Kong Mile.
  • Miss Andretti | The only horse in history to simultaneously hold five track records in Australia and the UK.
  • Buffering | Winner of the Al Quoz Sprint and one of the highest-earning racehorses of all time.
  • Chautauqua | A six-time Group 1 winner who amassed more than $8.8 million in career prize money, landing the Chairman’s Sprint Prize in Hong Kong among other triumphs.
  • Hey Doc | Won the Manikato Stakes in 2017 and then again in a race record time of 1:08.76 in 2020.


Manikato Stakes 2021 Winner

The Tony Gollan-trained Jonker held off the fast-finishing Bella Nepotina to win the Manikato Stakes last year. The race saw a frenetic start, but Jonker – the favourite – pulled to the front around the turn at the 250m mark.

Bella Nipotina gave chase, leading to a thrilling battle down the stretch, but Jonker held on to win it by a short head. Ingratiating was a distant third. It was Bella Nipotina’s fourth runner-up finish in five starts at Moonee Valley. Jonker, a Queensland sprinter, has now retired, but Bella Nipotina will be back this year to bid for victory once again.


Manikato Stakes Date and Details

The Manikato Stakes will take place on Friday night at Moonee Valley as part of the Cox Plate Carnival. It is the main event on Manikato Stakes Night. The first race is at 18:15 and the last is at 21:45. The Manikato Stakes is run over 1200m on the left-handed turf track, opened to sprinters aged three and older and run under weight for age conditions.


Manikato Stakes Leading Contenders



The Godolphin colt underlined his credentials by landing an impressive victory in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield earlier this month. That race takes place over 1100m, but Paulele finished strong, evading traffic and bursting past his rivals before holding off stablemate Ingratiating to claim a classy win, so he should enjoy the step up in trip.

Paulele has six wins from 17 starts, but none at the highest level. He was second by a head to the talented Apache Chase in the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup, and he also finished runner-up at the Group 1 Doomben 10,000. Trainer James Cummings discussed sending him to The Everest, but the team decided to go for Group 1 glory at the Manikato Stakes instead.

Paulele has landed a favourable draw in Barrier 6, and in-form jockey James McDonald is booked to ride, so everything has fallen into place for him. He was sixth in his last Group 1 race – the Moir Stakes over 1000m in January – but that was a tight clash, he had just returned from a lengthy spell and he needed a longer distance, so he should be stronger this time around.


Bella Nipotina 

Last year’s Manikato Stakes runner-up will return for another crack on Friday night. Bella Nipotina finished second to Coolangatta in the G1 Moir Stakes, following a win in the Listed Carlyon Stakes at Moonee Valley, and she has been rested for the past four weeks.

Bella Nipotina is a bit of a track specialist, with one win and five runner-up finishes at Moonee Valley under her belt. She also enjoys the 1200m trip, as evidenced by her blistering finish in last year’s Manikato Stakes, when she came inches from beating winner Jonker to the line. She has drawn Barrier 2 and she is also on the second line of the betting.



Coolangatta will bid to become the first horse to complete the Moir Stakes-Manikato Stakes double in the same year since Spinning Hill landed both races in 2002. The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained three-year-old, a stablemate to Bella Nipotina, has been drawn in Barrier 1, with Jamie Kah aboard. Coolangatta is young and lightly raced, but she has been very consistent throughout her career thus far, and she will now bid for a second Group 1 victory.



The Thriller from Chinchilla finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Zoustyle to win the Group 2 McEwen Stakes over 1000m at Moonee Valley last month. Coolangatta was third in that race. He was then fifth in the Moir Stakes, finishing just ahead of Paulele. He is the only other horse at single-figures for this race. 


Best Of Bordeaux

The Kacy Fogden-trained colt is the other three-year-old hopeful in this race. He heads into this race full of momentum after winning the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes at Randwick over 1200m, capping a fine Sydney campaign. Best Of Bordeaux has drawn Barrier 14.


Eleven Eleven

The Gregory Hickman-trained six-year-old was impressive when finishing third in the G1 Kingsford-Smith Cup in May, not far behind Apache Chase and Paulele. He was a lot less impressive when finishing last in a field of 18, more than 16 lengths behind winner Alligator Blood, in the G1 Stradbroke Handicap the following month. However, he was highly agitated by a misbehaving rival, Isotope, in that race. He won a trial over 1045m on his reappearance this season, but this may come too soon for him.


Manikato Stakes Odds

Horse Fixed Win Fixed Place
Paulele $3.6 $1.7
Bella Nipotina $4.4 $1.85
Coolangatta $5.5 $2.15
Rothfire $8 $2.8
Best Of Bordeaux $15 $4.2
Eleven Eleven $17 $4.6
September Run $17 $4.6
The Astrologist $26 $6
Behemoth $31 $6.5
In The Boat $34 $7
Jamaea $34 $7
Roch N Horse $34 $7
Sweet Ride $51 $9.5
The Inferno $51 $9.5
General Beau $81 $12
Streets Of Avalon $101 $14
Savatoxl $151 $20
Shaquero $151 $20


Manikato Stakes Prize Money 

Prize money of $2 million is up for grabs at the Group 1 Manikato Stakes. It was just $1 million last year, but Racing Victoria doubled the purse to attract sprinters away from The Everest. The winner takes home $1.2 million, while $360,000 is earmarked for the runner-up and the third-place horse earns $180,000. The horse that finishes fourth receives $90,000, and there will be $40,000 apiece awarded to the runners that finish sixth, seventh and eighth.


Manikato Stakes Tips

Bella Nipotina looks capable of making amends for last year’s narrow defeat by saluting in this race. She often reserves her best performances for Moonee Valley, she should relish the trip and she can handle soft ground. Bella Nipotina was second to Coolangatta in the Moir Stakes, but she should gain revenge over a longer distance on Friday.