The 2016 Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) continues to attract the country’s top sprinters and is run under lights at Moonee Valley on a Friday night.
Run under weight-for-age conditions, the race takes place on the eve of Australia’s most famous weight-for-age race, the Cox Plate (2040m), and is worth $750,000.
Sprinters contesting the Manikato Stakes may go on to contest the rich Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Chautauqua is the most recent winner of the Manikato Stakes after scoring a dominant victory over Srikandi and Rebel Dane in 2015.
The 2014 renewal of the Manikato was one of the closest contests on record with almost the entire field stretched out across the track in a nail-biting finish.
First run in 1968, the race was won by Winfreux when it was a Principal race and was known as the Freeway Stakes.
The following year, one of Australia’s most famous and highly regarded sprinters, Vain, lined up for his first and only start in the race and easily accounted for his rivals.
The honour roll includes some of Australia's finest horse flesh with Sepoy (2011), Hay List (2010), Miss Andretti (2006), Sunline (2000), Redoute's Choice (1999), Dane Ripper (1998), Rancho Ruler (1988), Rubiton (1987) and Strawberry Road (1983).
There have been four back-to-back winners of the race, with Dual Choice (1970-71), Tuato (1972-73), Spinning Hill (2002-03) and Spark Of Life (2004-05) completing the stunning feat, while Manikato’s dual wins came in 1979 and 1982.
In 1984, the race was renamed to honour Manikato who also won an unprecedented five William Reid Stakes at the same track and distance from 1979-83.
Lee Freedman is the most successful trainer in the races short but illustrious history having trained three winners and three 2nd placegetters from 17 runners.
The most successful jockey is Damien Oliver with an impressive two wins and eight placings from 16 rides in the event.